Samford leads Outdoor Track & Field Championships
Courtesy: Southern Conference
Release: 05/10/2018
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Samford's Marquis Barnes
Courtesy: Southern Conference

CULLOWHEE, N.C. – Samford's Tray Oates and Marquis Barnes each collected their third outdoor titles in their specialties and the Bulldog women won their fourth hammer throw title in five years as both squads hold the teams leads after Thursday's first day of the Southern Conference Outdoor Track and Field Championships at Western Carolina's Catamount Athletic Complex.

Samford's men have amassed 67 points through six scored events, while ETSU is second in the team race at 53 points. Two-time defending champion and tournament host Western Carolina is third with 41 points. On the women's side, the Bulldog women lead have 62 points to lead the Catamounts by 14 points. Furman is third with 41.

There were 12 event finals on Thursday, as well as a weather delay of 2 hours, 44 minutes midway through the day's proceedings. Prelims were run in 14 events and the first five events of the decathlon and the first four of the heptathlon were contested.
Three of the day's four men's field event finals featured schools posting 1-2 finishes.

Samford's Oates won the pole vault for the third straight season, clearing 5.20 meters (17 feet, 0.75 inches). Teammate Hugh Duggan was second in the event, while Western Carolina's Corey Ginley was third.

Samford's Barnes won his second straight long jump title and third overall with a leap of 7.18 meters (23 feet, 6.75 inches). The Bulldogs went 1-2 in that event, as well, as Jon Waarvik finished just behind Barnes with a jump of 7.16 meters (23 feet, 6 inches). The Citadel's Jordan Williams finished third. Samford's Thomas Ozburn Jr. was fifth as the Bulldogs claimed 22 points in the event.

Western Carolina went 1-2 in the men's hammer, with Scott Peretin winning his first title with a throw of 58.15 meters (190 feet, 9 inches). Dakota Wright was second, more than 2 meters behind him, and ETSU's Ben Johnson finished third. The Catamounts also got fifth- and sixth-place finishes to total 25 points in the event.

Johnson would claim a title of his own later in the day, defending his 2017 title in the javelin with a throw of 62.77 meters (205 feet, 11 inches). The Citadel's Charlie Hatler was second, followed by VMI's Donovan Walton in third.

ETSU's Alyssa Whipkey made it a Buccaneer sweep in the javelin, as she took the women's title with a throw of 43.34 meters (142 feet, 2 inches) to finish more than 5 meters ahead of two-time defending champion Mady Riegel of The Citadel. Furman's Reagan Chewning finished third for the Paladins' first podium finish in the event since 1992.

The meet started with the men's 10,000-meter run, which was won by ETSU's Malick Gemechu in 33:01.85. The sophomore is the Bucs' first winner in the event since Declan Fahy in 1998. Samford's Dillon Dean was the runner-up after earning all-freshman honors in the event a year ago, and Carl Oberfeitinger finished third to give ETSU a pair of podium finishes. The Bucs also got a sixth-place finish from Nathan Longfellow to total 19 points in the event.

Samford's Haley Ward claimed the women's 10,000m title, doing so in 38:06.51. She was followed by a pair of Furman underclassmen in freshman Reilly Caldwell and sophomore Jennifer Stephenson, who was the 2017 runner-up in the event.

Tatiana Taylor, last year's runner-up in the women's hammer, won this year's event with a throw of 54.35 meters (178 feet, 4 inches) on her first attempt to give Samford its fourth win in the hammer in the last five years. Western Carolina occupied the rest of the podium, with Simone Williams finishing second and Alisha Blackmon third.

The Catamounts posted a 1-2 finish in the women's pole vault, with 2016 champion Meghan Breden getting the win with a height of 3.80 meters (12 feet, 5.5 inches), followed by teammate Kinley Drummonds. Samford's Tally Wilson finished third as the Bulldogs claimed the 3-8 spots to pick up 21 team points in the event.

Last season's SoCon Freshman of the Year, Western Carolina's Jazmine Gooden, won the long jump with a personal-best leap of 6.16 meters (20 feet, 2.5 inches), finishing nearly a foot ahead of Samford's Selena Popp (5.86 meters). The Bulldogs' Erin Hines finished in third.

In the final men's track event of the day, Furman's Troy Reeder logged a time of 8:56.08 to dethrone two-time defending champion Simeon Roberts of ETSU in the 3,000-meter steeplechase. Roberts and Noah Charles went 2-3 for the Bucs, who also got points from Louis Morris and Adam Bradtmueller in the event.

On the women's side, Wofford freshman Hannah Steelman won the 3,000-meter steeplechase in a time of 10:09.39. Furman's Emma Grace Hurley, Gabrielle Jennings and Kristlin Gear took the next three spots, in that order.

Western Carolina's men will have ample opportunity to make up ground on Samford and ETSU on Friday, as the Catamounts put at least three runners in the finals of four events, including five in the 400-meter dash.

Furman's women put five in the finals of the 1,500-meter run, with the Paladins claiming the top five qualifying spots. ETSU's women qualified four in the 800-meter run and three in the 200-meter dash.

Wofford's Conrad Heinrich leads a tight race for the decathlon, as he has totaled 3,210 points through the first five events. Samford's Ozburn is just five points behind him, and Wofford's William Stout is third with 3,199 points.

In the heptathlon, Samford's Popp is well on her way to defending her 2017 title with 3,304 points through four events. Wofford's Amber Lust is currently second with 3,135 points.

The SoCon Championships resume Friday with the resumption of the decathlon at 9 a.m.

Live results, daily recaps, photos and video highlights can be found at

Men's results – Day 1
1. Samford – 67 points
2. ETSU – 53
3. Western Carolina – 41
4. The Citadel – 34
5. Furman – 16
6. VMI – 13
T7. Wofford – 5
T7. UNCG – 5

Women's results – Day 1
1. Samford – 62 points
2. Western Carolina – 48
3. Furman – 41
4. ETSU – 22
5. The Citadel – 19
6. Wofford – 14
7. Mercer 13
8. Chattanooga – 7
9. VMI – 5
10. UNCG – 3

Men's All-Freshman – Day 1
10,000-meter run
Allen Clark, Furman

Matt Cahoon, Samford
Mac Bennett, Western Carolina

Pole vault
Sam Blumer, The Citadel
Griffin Kowal, VMI
Lindsay Pierce, The Citadel

Long jump
Thomas Ozburn Jr., Samford
Karon Delince, ETSU

Matt Cahoon, Samford
Austin Eck, Samford
Matthew Mudd, Western Carolina

3,000-meter steeplechase
Ben Garner, Samford
Kellen Reeves, VMI
Stephen Wolf, VMI

Women's All-Freshman – Day 1
10,000-meter run
Reilly Caldwell, Furman
Ariana Garcia, UNCG
Whitley Elsass, Wofford

Symphony Buxton, ETSU
Lesleigh Tabor, Western Carolina
Jaden Finch, ETSU

Pole vault
Kinley Drummonds, Western Carolina
Tally Wilson, Samford
Jayme Claire Eubanks, Samford

Long jump
Sydney Campbell, Mercer
Makaila McIntyre, Western Carolina
Erin Willard, Western Carolina

Megan Dunn, Wofford
Anna Barfield, The Citadel
Sydney Hawks, ETSU

3,000-meter steeplechase
Hannah Steelman, Wofford
Kristlin Gear, Furman
Casey Miller, The Citadel

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