SPARTANBURG, S.C. – The Southern Conference Men's and Women's Indoor Track and Field Championships will take place at VMI's Corps Physical Training Facility in Lexington, Virginia, this weekend. This year marks the 83rd edition of the men's championship and 31st women's championship.
Saturday's schedule will begin at 10 a.m. with the women's pentathlon, while the first of four men's heptathlon events gets under way at 10:15 a.m. Saturday's final event, the women's distance medley relay, begins at 5:55 p.m. to cap the first day of competition. Sunday's schedule gets going at 9:15 a.m. with the continuation of the heptathlon. The final event of the day, the women's 4x400-meter relay, is slated for 3:10 p.m., followed by the awards ceremony half an hour later.
Western Carolina will be seeking its fifth consecutive men's title, while Samford will try for its third consecutive women's title. Last season, the Catamounts earned a 15-point win over Samford on the men's side, and the Bulldogs cruised to a 56.5-point win over Western Carolina in the women's team race. ETSU swept the meet's Most Outstanding Athlete honors, with Patrick Taylor winning the 200-meter dash and the long jump and Katrina Seymour claiming the 60-meter dash, 200-meter dash, 400-meter dash and 4x400-meter relay in addition to earning Most Outstanding Track Performer recognition.
This season's power rankings – determined by the top eight times or scores that are reported by the schools for each event that will be conducted at this weekend's championships – predict successful title defenses for both Western Carolina and Samford.
The Catamount men own 164.5 points in the power rankings, comfortably ahead of Samford's 121 and ETSU's 101. Western Carolina's strength is its balance, as the Catamounts scored 77 points in track events and 87.5 in field events.
Conversely, the margin is razor thin on the women's side, as Samford is just one point ahead of Western Carolina with 149.5 points. The Bulldogs scored in 15 of a possible 17 events and lean heavily on the field events, where they scored 100.5 of their points in the power rankings. The Catamount women share similar balance to their male counterparts, scoring 81.5 points in field events and 67 in track events.
Furman is third with 115 points, impressively accruing those points in just six events – half as many as Western Carolina and nine fewer than Samford – and 99 of them coming in four distance running events.
This year's championship is free to the public. Live results, daily recaps, photos and video highlights can be found at SoConSports.com.
- Lexington, Virginia, is the site of the men's event for the 36th time, double the total of the next-highest sites, Chapel Hill, North Carolina, and Johnson City, Tennessee, which has each hosted 18 times. The men's championship was contested in Lexington for 28 consecutive years from 1954-81. The women's championship will be held in Lexington for the fifth time. The last time VMI hosted the championships was in 2000.
- The Corps Physical Training Facility formally opened in January 2017 and is used for both track and field and general Corps of Cadets activities. It is believed to be one of only six indoor tracks at the NCAA level with a 200-meter banked hydraulic oval.
- The winners of seven of the 15 individual events from last year's meet return on the men's side, while six return on the women's side.
- Samford senior Tray Oates will be looking for his fourth straight pole vault title. Oates, who is one of just five in SoCon history to win the event in three consecutive years, could become the first to win the event four times. He currently has the third-best mark on the NCAA Division I performance list with a height of 5.63 meters (18 feet, 5.5 inches), which would easily surpass the meet record of 5.45 meters set by Samford's Michael Seaman in 2012.
- Furman's Troy Reeder will seek his third title in the mile. The defending champion in the event also won in 2015 but will face a challenge from Samford's Arsène Guillorel, who owns the best time in the league this season at 4:01.06, a mark nearly three seconds faster than the current meet record.
- Guillorel enters the meet with a chance to become a three-time champion in both the 3,000-meter run and the 5,000-meter run after winning both events in both 2016 and 2017. He would become just the second three-time winner in either event, joining ETSU's Seamus Powers, who won three 3,000-meter titles and four 5,000-meter crowns from 1991-94. Guillorel, however, has not competed in the 3,000m and trails Furman's Frank Lara by nearly 20 seconds on the SoCon's 5,000m performance list this indoor season. Guillorel's meet record of 13:55.73 in the 5,000m, set in 2016, is 0.44 seconds fast than Lara's SoCon-leading mark.
- Samford's Keyth Fightmaster is seeking his third high-jump title after earning wins in 2015 and 2017. He has the top jump in the SoCon by 5.5 inches this season.
- ETSU must replace Katrina Seymour, who pulled off an exceedingly rare triple crown in 2017 in becoming the first woman in SoCon history to win the 60-meter dash, the 200-meter dash and the 400-meter dash in the same championship meet.
- Samford's Selena Popp is the defending champion in both the high jump and the pentathlon, the latter of which she won with a meet-record 3,779 points in 2017.
2018 SoCon men's indoor track and field power rankings
Western Carolina 164.5
The Citadel 74
2018 SoCon women's indoor track and field power rankings
Western Carolina 149.5
The Citadel 14