May 14, 2017
ARLINGTON, Texas -- For the second time in school history and the second time since joining the Sun Belt Conference in the 2013-14 season, the UTA men's track and field team has claimed the conference's "triple crown" after its victory at the league's outdoor meet Sunday evening.
UTA scored 151 points to dominate the meet by 35 points over second-place Texas State (116). The women's team placed third with 103. During its inaugural SBC campaign in 2013-14, the Maverick men became the first team in Sun Belt history ever to achieve the three titles in the same season. Now Coach John Sauerhage's group has done it twice.
"When you are hosting a meet and you have a chance to win it makes it stressful," Sauerhage said. "We just did everything we needed to do to win the meet. (The triple crown) is hard to get. We may never do it again. We have a lot of respect for the league. We are proud of ourselves and we are looking forward to the NCAA meet."
The exclamation point came in the men's 5,000m race when the Mavericks filled the medal podium with Michael Guerrero (14:41.56), Craig Lautenslager (14:45.55) and Justin Domangue (14:46.61). The victory was Guerrero's second of the weekend, as he claimed the 10,000m on Friday night for his first-ever league title.
"It feels awesome considering I lost both my races indoors," Guerrero said. "I was out-kicked at the line in both cases indoors. The feeling you get in being out-kicked at the line is enough motivation to help push that extra. I could not have done it without my teammate Craig."
Guerrero was thrilled to turn and witness the 1-2-3 finish, which featured Domangue's sprint to the line to take the bronze by .002, because it showed what the UTA program is all about.
"That is awesome," he said. "Seeing the heart everybody left on the track. Not just in distance--field events, hurdles, sprints, everybody. We are all one big family. It is easy to give up on yourself. It is really hard to give up on family."
Lautenslager had his own individual triumph just two hours earlier, when he won the easily won the 1500 meters with a time of 3:51.60.
"It was kind of tough with the wind this afternoon," Lautenslager said. "So, that was a bit of a factor. I had the best time in the field so I decided to go out there and take it when it slowed down. I never looked back and ran as hard as I could."
In addition, Emeka Nwangwu defended his title in the men's 110m hurdles with a strong time of 13.93. It was different circumstances for Nwangwu, who was seeded sixth in 2016, but this year was the top qualifier.
"It is a great feeling honestly," Nwangwu said. "I didn't imagine this (back-to-back titles) would happen. I'm just glad I pulled it out. I try to keep my same process regardless of the situation. I just try to compete at a higher level."
For the women, senior Tamerah Gorham collected her third conference championship in the women's 800 meters in four tries thanks to a clocking of 2:11.20. She finished just ahead of teammate Dasia Rolfe, who was the runner up in 2:13.28.
"It feels amazing," Gorham said. "That I have the ability to do that (win three titles) is amazing. I try to keep my mind focused on the right things. I try to stay calm, as hard as that is."
She then anchored the 4x400m relay squad that pulled off an thrilling victory by .08 with a time of 3:41.44. She was joined by teammates, Taylor Davis, Brianna McClure and Rolfe in a season-best effort by seven seconds.
"Our main goal was to come in first, especially since it is on our home track," Gorham said. "That is a big thing for us. When we saw the result, we were excited. Everybody needed to go out as hard as they could since this is the last race. Nobody gave up. It felt amazing to earn the win."
In addition to Nwangwu, two more Mavericks also scored in the men's 110m hurdles as Petter Gustafsson placed fourth (14.27) and Victor Fincher snagged fifth (14.35). In the men's 1500m, Woodberry was sixth (3:55.23) and Grayson Birka was seventh (3:55.82).
Senior teammates Tobi Fawehinmi and David Brefo each scored points for UTA in the triple jump, as Fawehinmi placed fifth (49-3 3/4) and Brefo was eighth (48-4 ½). De'Vion Simpson crossed fourth in the 800m (1:51.24) and Connor Julian was seventh (1:52.49).
Other point scorers for the men included: Demarviae Gray in the 200m (4th, 21.03), Dylan Gale in the pole vault (5th, 15-11 ¾), David Seastrunk in the high jump (6th, 6-6 ¼) and Garrett Moore in the 400m hurdles (52.48). The 4x400m crew of Simpson, Moore, Martinsson and Wallace was the runner up in a season-best 3:08.93.
Also scoring for the women were: Alexis Baldwin in the 100m (4th, 11.61), Victoria Rimpsey in the 100m (5th, 11.74), Chineme Obikudu in the triple jump (5th, 40-4 ¼), McClure in the 400m (7th, 55.34) and Emoni Taylor in the 400m hurdles (1:03.89). The 4x100m relay tam earned a bronze medal with a clocking of 46.04.
"Our women had some devastating injuries this season," Sauerhage said. "For our team to get up off the canvas shorthanded and have the kind of meet they had speaks a lot to the kind of people we have on our team. We had some senior leadership. A lot of people came through. To get second indoor and third outdoors was a good year. We qualified a lot of athletes for the NCAA meet so we are happy."
It was the first time that UTA hosted an outdoor track championship since 2013, when the Mavericks were members of the Western Athletic Conference.
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