ARLINGTON, Texas – The UTA men’s track team will be looking to defend its title, while the women are aiming to build upon last year’s runner-up showing when the Mavericks compete in the Sun Belt Conference Indoor Track and Field Championships next week.
Action will kick off at the Birmingham CrossPlex in Birmingham, Ala., Monday at 9 a.m. with the men’s heptathlon. Individual field events will begin at noon, while running event prelims start at 4:15 p.m. Finals of the 3000 meters and distance medley relay will take place Monday evening.
Tuesday will begin with the multi-events (women’s pentathlon and remainder of heptathlon) at 9 a.m. Individual field events will follow at noon with running finals at 12:30 p.m. The last event of the meet is set to run at 4:15 p.m.
The UTA men have placed in the top two at indoor conference meets for seven straight years, and secured SBC titles in 2014 and 2017. Since joining the Sun Belt in 2014, the men have averaged 140.4 points per meet, including an all-time record 185 in its first year.
“We have our work cut out for us to defend our title,” coach John Sauerhage said. “Any time you’re competing against the type of teams that are in our league, you have to have an outstanding meet to come out on top. We feel like we are primed for our best meet of the year, but we have to go out there and do it.”
Michael Guerrero leads way as he boasts the best times in the Sun Belt in a pair of events, the 3000 meters (8:20.73) and 5000 meters (14:26.44). He also is fifth in the mile (4:14.67).
Meanwhile, Erik Martinsson ranks first in the league in the 800m (1:48.80) and is second in the 400m (47.84). He headlines a UTA group that is 2-3-4 in the 400m, just ahead of David Seastrunk (47.91) and Brenden Wallace (47.93). All three are members of the 4x400m relay team that enters the meet as the favorite with a time of 3:10.21.
Joel Duren leads the league in the mile, one of two events he won last year en route to SBC Most Outstanding Performer and High Point Scorer honors, with a time of 4:10.22.
Other men in the top five in their events include Emeka Nwangwu (3rd, 8.00) and Petter Gustafsson (5th, 8.09) in the 60m hurdles, Tyler Forde in the 5000m (5th, 15:18.87) and Christian Cuellar in the triple jump (5th, 46-0 ¾).
On the other side, the women’s team’s 99 points last year were its most an a league indoor meet since 2012. It was also its best conference finish since that same season.
“Breaking 100 points and finishing in the top three are our goals,” Sauerhage said. “We need our top athletes to have big meets to accomplish what we want to. We have to come through in the events we are ranked high in.”
Tori Shelton has a chance for individual titles in a pair of events. She sits atop the league in both the 3000 meters (9:52.37) and the 5000 meters (17:05.16). Her teammate Madeleine Rowe (9:58.10) is second in the 3000m.
Alexus Henry, who ranks fourth in the high jump nationally, headlines the conference’s high jumpers. She has a season-best effort of 6-1 ¼, which is a school record by nearly two inches.
Reigning 800-meter indoor champ Astrid Rosvall is listed second in the 800m (2:12.18). She also is listed fifth in the mile (4:59.27) after placing second in the event a year ago.
Three other field event participants are among the league’s elite. Madison Pecot ranks third in the pole vault (12-6 ¼), while Chineme Obikudu and Juleen Lewis are fourth (40-7) and fifth (40-5 ½) in the triple jump.
The league meet will air live on ESPN3 with Jim Barbar and Jill Montgomery calling the action. Live scoring will be available through DeltaTiming.com.
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