May 7, 2014
ARLINGTON, Texas - The UT Arlington men's outdoor track and field team will be looking to make history this weekend as the Mavericks aim to complete the coveted "triple crown" by winning the cross country, indoor and outdoor league championships in the same season.
The squad will get its opportunity Friday-Sunday at the Sun Belt Conference Men's and Women's Outdoor Track & Field Championships. The meet will be held in San Marcos, Texas, at the Texas State Track & Field Stadium.
The triple-crown feat has never been accomplished on the men's side at UTA. The women's team managed to win all three titles twice in the Southland Conference (1997-98 and 2000-01) under coach John Sauerhage.
"It would be really special because it's very hard to do," Sauerhage said. "This one will be the toughest because it's been such a long year. People are gunning for you. We've gone from the hunter to the hunted."
To complete the trifecta, UTA must contend once again with Western Kentucky, which finished second at the SBC indoor meet, as well as Texas State, which won the 2013 Western Athletic Conference crown and is competing on its home track.
"We'll have our work cut out for us," Sauerhage said. "We're going to have to have our best meet of the year. But all we can ask is that we go down there and compete to the best of our abilities. Our kids aren't worried about any of the other stuff, they are focused on the task at hand."
Headlining the Maverick team is All-American Clayton Vaughn, who boasts the league's top times in both the 100m (10.07) and the 200m (20.66). He also anchors the 4x100 relay team that also is the best in the league (39.80).
UTA also features a stable of top-notch distance runners. Craig Lautenslager has the conference's fastest time in the 5000m (14:20.90), while Eric Ojeda tops the charts in the 10000m (30:36.76). Emil Blomberg, the SBC Indoor Most Outstanding Track Athlete, owns the best 3000m steeplechase time at 8:53.86.
The Mavericks also have two field athletes at the top of their respective events. Roland Sales is tied for the best clearance in the high jump (6-11), while Ivan Storic leads in the javelin (230-01).
On the women's side, UTA was the runner up in the cross country season and finished sixth in the indoor campaign. Western Kentucky was the indoor champion, while Arkansas State took the cross country title. This weekend will give the UTA squad another chance to show its mettle.
"We're looking forward to it," Sauerhage said. "We've had a good season and we are a good team. A top-3 finish is our goal and if we compete like we are capable of, we'll give ourselves a chance to contend for a conference championship on Sunday night."
Three women are the leaders in their respective event areas. Ashly Wright, who reached the 2013 NCAA Outdoor Championships, has the best clocking in the 800m (2:07.28). Meanwhile, Ashley Burris paces the conference in the 400m hurdles (1:01.10), while Noemie Forget holds down the top spot in the pole vault (13-00.25).
The meet will kick off Friday with the men's decathlon and women's pentathlon. Also that day the men's and women's hammer throw, men's and women's javelin and the women's pole vault will take place in the field. On the track, only the men's and women's 10000 meters will be contested on day one.
The bulk of the finals will take place Sunday, with the final event, the 4x400 relay, set to begin at approximately 8 p.m. Live scoring of the meet will be available all three days on SunBeltSports.org.
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