ARLINGTON, Texas - History, trophies and pride will all be on the line when UTA hosts the Sun Belt Conference Outdoor Track & Field Championships Friday through Sunday at Maverick Stadium.
The men's team is eyeing the program's second-ever "triple crown" after winning both the conference's cross country title in the fall and the indoor track and field championship during the winter. The women's squad is seeking a trophy of its own after the team's best league finish in a decade, a runner-up showing at the indoor meet in February. And the Mavericks are determined to proudly show off their facilities and campus to the 18 other teams (11 women, seven men) visiting from the Sun Belt.
"It's finally here, and to say we are extremely excited is an understatement," UTA coach John Sauerhage said. "Every season, this is what we work for. And this year being able to host the conference meet makes it even more special."
The men boast 24 athletes who enter the meet ranked among the Sun Belt Conference's top eight performers in their respective events. Twelve of the men rank in the top three.
Craig Lautenslager is one of just two men in the conference with the fastest seed time in two events. The first comes in the 1500 meters, with a figure of 3:46.91 that ranks second in UTA history. The senior also holds down the best clocking the 5000 meters, thanks to a school-record time of 13:56.85 set last month in California.
Fellow distance runner Michael Guerrero, who is one spot behind Lautenslager in the 5000m, sits atop the league in the 10,000 meters. His time of 29:45.02 is the best among all competitors by 50 seconds. In all, the UTA distance crew holds four of the top eight spots in the 5000m and three of the top five in the 1500m.
Others on the men's team ranked among the top three include: Brenden Wallace in the 400m (3rd, 47.45), Erik Martinsson in the 800m (2nd, 1:48.53), Joel Duren in the 1500m (3rd, 3:48.16), Emeka Nwangwu in the 110m hurdles (2nd, 14.02), Victor Fincher in the 110m hurdles (3rd, 14.03), Garrett Moore in the 400m hurdles (3rd, 51.99), Justin Domangue in the 5000m (3rd, 14:29.68) and Tobi Fawehinmi in the triple jump (3rd, 15.50m).
Meanwhile the women have 17 athletes who enter the meet ranked among the league's top eight in their respective events, including seven in the top three.
Leading the way on the track is senior Tamerah Gorham, who is the top qualifier in the 800 meters (2:08.66). She is seeking her third outdoor conference individual title in the event.
In the field, freshman Helen Falda leads the Sun Belt in the women's pole vault by a wide margin. She is ranked eighth nationally in the event with a mark of 4.38 meters. Falda already owns the stadium record in the pole vault with a 4.05-meter effort at the Bobby Lane Invitational in March.
Fellow pole vaulter Madison Pecot is second in the conference, and 25th nationally, with a mark of 4.18 meters. In addition to the pole vault, the women also have multiple top-eight marks in the 100 meters, high jump, long jump and triple jump.
Alexus Henry ranks second in the SBC in the heptathlon with 5,056 points. Other top performers include Victoria Rimpsey (3rd in the 100m), Katelyn Hayward (3rd in the 1500m) and Chassity Love (3rd in the long jump).
All individual events and relays at the meet will be scored in the eight-place scoring format (10-8-6-5-4-3-2-1). The team champion on both sides will score north of 100 points.
"We just need to have everyone do their part," Sauerhage said. "You don't have to think big picture. You stay in the moment and do what you can do to help the team have a chance to win on Sunday night."
The meet begins with the multi-events (men's decathlon and women's pentathlon) on Friday at 9 a.m. Friday will also features morning and afternoon finals in the women's hammer (10 a.m.), men's hammer (12:30 p.m.) and women's javelin (3 p.m.). Evening finals will consist of the women's pole vault (5:30 p.m.), men's javelin (5:30 p.m.), women's 10,000 meters (8:30 p.m.) and men's 10,000 meters (9:15 p.m.). Admission for the first day is free.
On Saturday and Sunday, daily tickets are $10 for adults and $8 for youth ages 5-17. Sun Belt Conference students with valid IDs and children under 5 are free. Tickets may be purchased at the Maverick Stadium south gate or online at UTATickets.com.
UTA's Championships Central page with all pertinent information is available here.
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