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 84th edition of the men’s championship and 32nd women’s championship.
Saturday’s schedule will begin at 9 a.m. with the men’s heptathlon, while the women’s pentathlon gets under way at 9:15 a.m. Saturday’s final event, the men’s distance medley relay, begins at 6:15 p.m. to cap the first day of competition. Sunday’s schedule gets going at 9 a.m. with the continuation of the heptathlon. The final event of the day, the men’s 4x400-meter relay, is slated for 3:40 p.m., followed by the awards ceremony.
Western Carolina will be seeking its sixth consecutive men’s title, while Samford will try for its fourth straight women’s title. Last season, the Catamounts edged Samford by just three points on the men’s side, but the Bulldogs posted an 11-point win over Western Carolina in the women’s team race. Samford swept the meet’s Most Outstanding Athlete honors, with Marquis Barnes taking the honor on the men’s side and Selena Popp on the women’s side. Barnes won the heptathlon and long jump, while Popp, who returns for her senior season this year, won the pentathlon, high jump and long jump.
Both would go on to be voted the Most Outstanding Field Performers for the meet.
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 176.5 points in the power rankings, comfortably ahead of Samford’s 121 and ETSU’s 95.
On the women’s side, Samford enjoys a comfortable lead with 180 points, followed by Western Carolina’s 115.5 and ETSU’s 107.
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 37th time, more than 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 was held in Lexington for the fifth time last season. Prior to 2018, the last time VMI hosted the championships was in 2000.
- The winners of six of the 15 individual events from last year’s meet return on the men’s side, while 10 return on the women’s side.
- There will be a first-time winner in the pole vault, as Samford’s Tray Oates capped his career with his fourth straight title last season.
- Samford’s Popp is the two-time defending champion in both the high jump and the pentathlon as well as the defending champ in the long jump.
- Samford’s Karisa Nelson, the 2017 NCAA champion in the mile, returns after missing last season’s SoCon meet with injury. She set a meet record with her time of 4:43.96 to win the event in 2017.
- Furman returns all of the defending champions in the women’s middle distance and distance events. Krissy Gear won the 800-meter run and the mile en route to being named Female Freshman of the Year, while Emma Grace Hurley won the 3,000-meter run and Savannah Carnahan set a meet record of 16:24.84 in the 5,000-meter run. Carnahan is the two-time defending champion in the event.
- The Paladins’ Frank Lara returns to defend titles in the 3,000m and 5,000m.
- ETSU thrower Ben Johnson won the weight throw last year with a meet-record toss of 21.99 meters.
- Last year’s Male Freshman of the Year, ETSU’s Karon Delince, returns to defend his title in the 200-meter run.
- Samford’s Emmanuel Tait was the Most Outstanding Track Performer from last year’s meet. Tate claimed a trio of runner-up finishes at the championship meet, doing so in the 200-meter dash, the 60-meter hurdles and the 60-meter dash.
2019 SoCon men’s indoor track and field power rankings
Western Carolina 176.5
The Citadel 50.5
UNC Greensboro 17
2019 SoCon women’s indoor track and field power rankings
Western Carolina 115.5
The Citadel 6
UNC Greensboro 3