ARLINGTON, Texas – The UTA men’s and women’s track an field teams are primed for fiercely contested title races when the Sun Belt Conference Indoor Championships are held Monday and Tuesday in Birmingham, Ala.
The men finished as the league runner up last year, while the women took sixth. This year, both squads have seen growth throughout the season and expect to be in title contention throughout the two-day spectacle.
The Mavericks will be bringing a number of individual title contenders to the Birmingham CrossPlex next week. Seven men and seven women currently rank among the league’s top three in their respective events. Of those, four men and two women enter the meet owning the conference’s top performance of the regular season.
Sophomore Erik Martinsson leads the way on the men’s side. He currently ranks first in the Sun Belt in two events, the 400 meters (48.24) and 800 meters (1:49.16). Martinsson is one of just two men in the league to top two performance lists.
Senior Tobi Fawehinmi had strong recent performances in the horizontal jumps after battling injuries early in the season. He currently ranks first in the triple jump (50-7 ¼) and third in the long jump (23-10 ¾).
In addition, freshman Nicklas Karlsson ranks first in the heptathlon after a 4,925-point performance in his only multi-event effort of the season.
“We are definitely contenders on the men’s side,” UTA coach John Sauerhage said. “It’s going to be about competing like we’re capable of and having individuals step up. We’re going to have to exceed expectations in some event areas, but I think we have a group capable of doing that.”
For the women, freshman Helen Falda has been sensational in the pole vault. The reigning SBC Women’s Field Athlete of the Week has broken the school record in the event three times in her four collegiate meets. Her latest mark (13-9 ¼), which she achieved last week, ranks 15th in the NCAA this season.
Fellow freshman Astrid Rosvall has also been a standout. She owns the conference’s best time in the 800 meters (2:10.79) by three full seconds, and also ranks third in the mile at 4:56.64.
In addition, the women’s distance medley relay sits in first place with a time of 12:12.04.
“Our women have a very balanced team,” Sauerhage said. “We’ll have to see how the team responds to the challenges and the competitive conference championship atmosphere, but we certainly could be in it right down to the last event. We’re very excited.”
Tamerah Gorham (2:13.67) follows Rosvall to give the Mavericks the two best times in the league in the 800m. The Mavericks are also well represented at the top in the women’s 60 meters, as Alexis Baldwin ranks second (7.50), while Victoria Rimpsey is third (7.53).
In addition, Alexus Henry has the third-best score in the pentathlon (3,567). The reigning SBC indoor high jump champion also ranks fourth in that event with a season-best mark of 5-8 ½.
The meet will be scored using the standard team scoring with the top eight finishers (10-8-6-5-4-3-2-1). Every point will be at a premium, as the conference champion will most assuredly need to total more than 100 points.
“The scores start at zero right now,” Sauerhage said. “It doesn’t matter whose the defending champion is or what kind of season anyone has had so far. It will all be decided on the track and in the field on Monday and Tuesday.”
Action begins on Monday morning at 9 a.m. (CT) with the men’s heptathlon and women’s pentathlon. Individual field events will begin at 10 a.m., while running events open at 4:15 p.m.
Live scoring will be available at the Sun Belt Conference’s meet central page here.
The 2017 Sun Belt Conference Men's and Women's Outdoor Track & Field Championships are scheduled for May 12-14 at Maverick Stadium in Arlington, Texas. Ticket and event information will be available at UTAMavs.com.
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