Western Carolina won its second straight men's outdoor track and field title.
Photo Courtesy of Southern Conference
WCU, Samford win outdoor track titles
Courtesy: Southern Conference
Release: 05/12/2017
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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – Western Carolina won the final event of the day, the 4x400-meter relay, to edge Samford for the men's title, and the Bulldogs cruised to the women's crown to wrap up Friday's final day of competition at the Southern Conference Outdoor Track and Field Championship at the Samford Track and Soccer Stadium. The title was the seventh  for WCU and the second for Samford.

Western Carolina's men posted 190.5 points to slip past the Bulldogs, who accumulated 184.5. Samford's women racked up 245 points, while runner-up WCU had 194.

ETSU had the meet's Most Outstanding Athletes on both sides, as Kyra Atkins and Benjamin Johnson were the top-scoring female and male athletes, respectively.

WCU's Dakota Wright and Samford's Abigail Cutcliffe were the Pinnacle Award winners as the student-athletes with the highest GPAs on the winning squads.

On the men's side, Western Carolina made up a 20-point first-day team deficit early Friday and then waged a tight battle with Samford for the title. Western Carolina won four events on the day, while Samford claimed two. Furman claimed three wins Friday, sweeping the three longest distances, while The Citadel picked up two victories, taking both hurdles events.

The Catamounts were nursing a 19-point lead with two events left to be decided, but the inclement weather that had been predicted to hit the area finally did just as the final women's events concluded, shortly after 1 p.m.

That left the fate of the men's title up to the decathlon, which needed to complete the 1,500 meters to go final, and the men's 4x400-meter relay, and after a delay of nearly 80 minutes, the teams returned to the track to decide the 2017 champion.

Wofford's Conrad Heinrich won the decathlon 1,500 meters but runner-up Samford's Jay Vines claimed the overall event with 6,008 points, making it a one-point team margin entering the final relay. Samford's Hunter Schlatter finished third in the decathlon and Andrew Patterson sixth to make it 180.5-179.5 in Western Carolina's favor entering the decisive relay.

The Catamounts proved up to the challenge, as the six-time defending champions in the event made it seven in a row, running to a time of 3:13.36 to secure the six-point win and their second straight team title.

Day-one leader Samford got off to a good start Friday, winning the men's 4x100m relay in 40.79 seconds. After Furman's Troy Reeder turned in a time of 3:46.46 to defend his 1,500-meter title and edge runner-up Arsene Guillorel of Samford, The Citadel's Malik Diggs won the 110-meter hurdles, turning in a time of 14.27 seconds to edge Western Carolina's Devyn Jones (14.36).

Diggs later became a two-time winner on the day, as he ran 52.87 to claim the 400-meter hurdles.

Western Carolina swept the podium in the men's 400-meter dash to pull within a point of Samford. Dakota Lamont won in 47.75 seconds, followed by teammates Devaniel Dale and Henry Kiedy. Miles Greer and Dylan Andrade also scored for WCU as the Catamounts picked up 26 points on the Bulldogs in the event.

WCU and Samford posted a 1-2 finish in the men's 100-meter dash as the teams remained separated by just a point, with the Catamounts on top. WCU's Keion Crossen won in 10.39 seconds, followed closely by the Bulldogs' Emmanuel Tait in 10.40.

With WCU and Samford all square at 156.5 points apiece after the 400-meter hurdles, the 200-meter dash offered some separation, as Western Carolina swept the top two spots. Lamont won his second event of the day in 21.49 seconds and teammate Devaniel Dale finished second, putting the Catamounts up 178.5-156.5 over Samford.

Samford picked up three points in the next event, the 5,000 meters, to set the stage for the dramatic finish.

Furman's Ryan Adams won the men's 800 meters by more than two seconds, winning in 1:51.22. The Paladins posted a podium sweep in the 5,000 meters, with Frank Lara winning in 14:29.35 to complement the 10,000-meter title he won on Thursday. Teammate Reeder was second nearly 10 seconds back, and Mason Coppi was third.

On the women's side, two meet records fell on the day. ETSU's Atkins defended her 2016 title in the 100-meter hurdles with a SoCon Championship-record time of 13.25 seconds. Atkins ran the same time in Thursday's prelims of the event, but the wind level precluded it from counting as a record then. The sophomore became a two-time winner later in the day, winning the 200-meter dash with a time of 23.86 seconds.

Furman's Allie Buchalski absolutely destroyed the SoCon Championship record in the 5,000 meters, turning in a time of 16:12.98 to drop more than 32 seconds off the old mark of 16:45.22 set by Chattanooga's Lanni Marchant in 2006. Buchalski's title was her second straight and led a dominant effort in the event by the Paladins, who swept the top six spots.

Every other women's event Friday was won by either Samford or Western Carolina, which each won four women's events on the final day of competition. There was little drama in the women's team race, as Samford brought a 45-point lead into the day and was never seriously threatened.

The first finals event of the day was the 4x100-meter relay, which saw Western Carolina claim 10 team points with the 45.42-second finish.

Samford's Karisa Nelson, the reigning indoor national champion in the mile, won the 1,500 meters to extend the Bulldogs' team lead. She and Furman's Gabrielle Jennings were neck-and-neck heading into the final lap, but Nelson made her move with 200 meters left and easily pulled away to defend her 2016 title in the event.

Western Carolina's Dasha Arnaut won the women's 400-meter dash with a time of 54.92 seconds, outdistancing a game Katrina Seymour of ETSU, who injured her right leg running the anchor leg of the 4x100-meter relay but still managed a second-place finish in the 400m. Arnaut picked up her second event win a little later in the afternoon, winning the 400-meter hurdles in 1:00.81. Seymour set a meet record in the prelims of the event on Thursday but was unable to finish Friday.

Samford's Tonia McKinley earned the title in the women's 100-meter dash, running to a time of 11.77 seconds to edge WCU's Jazmine Gooden and VMI's Kerisha Goode, who both posted marks of 11.79 seconds. Samford freshman Presley Weems won the 800-meter run with a time of 2:10.09, more than two seconds clear of runner-up Kaitlyn Lingard of Western Carolina (2:12.84).

Samford's Selena Popp won the heptathlon, accumulating 5,129 points to improve upon her 2016 runner-up showing. After winning the high jump and shot put on Thursday, she added wins in the javelin (33.34 meters) and 800 meters (2:26.60) Friday to cruise to the win. Teammate Erin Hines won the heptathlon long jump with a leap of 5.61 meters Friday.

Western Carolina's relay squad capped off the women's meet with a decisive win in the 4x400-meter relay, turning in a time of 3:47.02 to best runner-up Samford, which finished in 3:49.32.

Men's results – Day 2
1. Western Carolina – 190.5 points
2. Samford – 184.5
3. The Citadel – 132
4. ETSU – 129
5. Furman – 105
6. Wofford – 52
7. UNCG – 7

Women's results – Day 2
1. Samford – 245 points
2. Western Carolina – 194
3. Furman – 109
4. ETSU – 89
5. VMI – 66
6. Wofford – 44
7. Mercer – 26
8. The Citadel – 24
9. UNCG – 11
10. Chattanooga – 4

Men's Most Outstanding Athlete
Benjamin Johnson, ETSU

Men's Pinnacle Award (highest GPA on championship-winning team)
Dakota Wright, Western Carolina

Women's Most Outstanding Athlete
Kyra Atkins, ETSU

Women's Pinnacle Award (highest GPA on championship-winning team)
Abigail Cutcliffe, Samford

Men's All-Freshman – Day 2
Hunter Schlatter, Samford

Men's 1,500-meter run
Adam Bradtmueller, ETSU
Josh Routh, ETSU
Jack Zemp, Wofford

Men's 110-meter hurdles
Quandarius Weems, Furman
Cory Alston, Western Carolina
Jonathan Hall, Wofford

Men's 400-meter dash
Samuel Santiago, The Citadel
Devaniel Dale, Western Carolina
Cody Chavis, Wofford

Men's 100-meter dash
Emmanuel Tait, Samford
John Bapoupeleh, Wofford

Men's 800-meter run
Madison Daniel, Furman
Thomas Moore, Furman
Jonathan Helton, Samford

Men's 400-meter hurdles
Jordan Oballe, Samford
Jonathan Hall, Wofford

Men's 200-meter dash
Devaniel Dale, Western Carolina
John Bapoupeleh, Wofford

Men's 5,000-meter run
Mason Coppi, Furman
Dillon Dean, Samford
Adam Bradtmueller, ETSU


Women's All-Freshman – Day 2
Erin Hines, Samford

Women's 1,500-meter run
Kaitlyn Lay, ETSU
Savannah Carnahan, Furman
Gabrielle Jennings, Furman

Women's 100-meter hurdles
Kiara Price, ETSU
Lauren Beard, Samford
Jazmine Gooden, Western Carolina

Women's 400-meter dash
Rachel Dixon, Samford
Kellsie Whitehead, Western Carolina
Kassidy Morton, Wofford

Women's 100-meter dash
Jazmine Gooden, Western Carolina

Women's 800-meter run
Riley Burr, Furman
Taylor Delaney, UNCG
Presley Weems, Samford

Women's 400-meter hurdles
Kiara Price, ETSU
Lauren Beard, Samford

Women's 200-meter dash
Kelsey Henry, Chattanooga
Taylor Sawyer, Chattanooga
Jazmine Gooden, Western Carolina

Women's 5,000-meter run
Savannah Carnahan, Furman
Emma Grace Hurley, Furman
Jennifer Stephenson, Furman

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