T&F: Lofty goals for UTA track teams at WAC Championships

Romain Martin will be a key figure for the Mavericks at the WAC Championships.

Feb. 20, 2013

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ARLINGTON, Texas - In its lone season in the Western Athletic Conference, the UT Arlington track and field teams are looking to make their marks on the league in a short period of time. And after winning the men's cross country title in the fall, the indoor track and field teams are looking to add more hardwood to the trophy case.

"We have our sights set high and we are ready to compete," head coach John Sauerhagesaid. "This is going to be a very interesting conference meet, and I feel like our team is up for the challenge."

The men's team is arguably the most complete squad--from sprinters to distance runners to field event participants--in UTA history. The Mavericks' current national ranking of 22nd is proof of its talent level.

Four men head into the league championship owning the conference's best mark in their respective events.

On the track, returning All-American Clayton Vaughn claims the fastest 60m time (6.63) in the WAC, while freshman Craig Lautenslagersports the top 3000m clocking (8:25.45) this season.

In the field, Bozidar Antunovic's school-record shot put of 64-04.50 is the best in the WAC, while another returning All-American, Romain Martin, ranks first in the heptathlon (5,756).

There is no doubt that Martin will be a big factor in the Mavericks' title quest. In addition to competing in the heptathlon, the senior also will take part in three individual events, as he ranks among the league's best in the 60m hurdles (4th), high jump (5th) and long jump (6th).

Vaughn, seeded third in the WAC in the 200m, and Lautenslager, seventh in the mile, also have the opportunity to score big points for the team.

The jumps, a strong point for the Mavs as well as fellow title contender UTSA, figure to play a large role in determining the team champion. UTA boasts three of the top-eight marks in the long jump courtesy of Lionel Mungwari (2nd), Quentin Butler (3rd) and Brandon Waller (7th). Waller also ranks fourth in the triple jump, while teammate Omar Barnesis sixth.

Others in the top eight in running events are: Emil Blomberg (3rd in mile), Virgilio Martinez (4th in 3000m), Philip Critelli (6th in 800m) and Anthony Hilliman(8th in mile).

Additional field event participants currently sitting in scoring position are: Kemarki Absalom and Roland Sales (tied for 5th in high jump) and Branko Petrovic(5th in shot put).

Another of UTA's strengths is its depth in the heptathlon. In addition to having the prohibitive favorite in Martin, the Mavs also field the WAC's third and fourth ranked athletes, Brandon Blanchard and John Frnka.

"Our goal is to win a championship," Sauerhage said. "But in order to do that, we are going to have to have the engine turning on all cylinders."

The women are also eyeing a high finish against a strong field that includes favorite Texas State.

"We have some very talented women and we are going to compete our guts out," Sauerhage said. "We're not conceding anything. The women have enjoyed a really good year and are looking forward to a strong showing this week."

Sprinter Shannon Reynolds leads the Mavericks, as she ranks among the league's best in both the 60m (2nd) and 200m (3rd). Another runner who is near the top of two leaderboards is DeAndrea Smith, who is listed fourth in the 400m and seventh in the 200m.

The women also have numerous standouts in the jumps, as the Mavs head into the meet with three of the WAC's top four long jump efforts courtesy of Morgan Domingue (2nd), Charity Knight (3rd) and Danielle Delage (4th). In addition, Jennifer Brown and Shae Johnsonare fourth and fifth, respectively, in the triple jump.

Ashly Wright, who boasts the second-best 800m time in the league, also paces the Mavs' second-ranked distance medley relay squad. Katelyn Hayward (5th) and Sydney Hampton(7th) could also figure into the scoring in the mile.

Two newcomers, DeOna Stafford (4th) and Porschea Wilson (8th) give the Mavericks chances for points in the 60-meter hurdles. In the pole vault, Julianne Burch (5th) and Taylor Long (8th) will look to contend, as will Danielle Delage (3rd in pentathlon) and Marniqua Thompson(7th in high jump) in their events.

Sauerhage is eager to see what will happen over three anxiety-filled days in Albuquerque.

"Now it's up to the kids to perform like they are capable of performing," Sauerhage said. "We'll see what happens when the smoke clears, but we've got a chance to do some great things."

The competition begins on Thursday with the men's heptathlon and the women's pentathlon. Field and running events will take place Friday and Saturday. Points will be scored according to the top eight places in each event (10-8-6-5-4-3-2-1). Live scoring will be available here.





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