SPARTANBURG, S.C. – The Southern Conference Men’s and Women’s Outdoor Track and Field Championships will take place at Western Carolina’s Catamount Athletic Complex this Thursday and Friday. This year marks the 94th annual championship for the men and 32nd for the women.
Thursday’s schedule gets under way with the men’s 10,000-meter run at 8:30 a.m., followed by the women’s 10,000m. The decathlon commences at 10 and the heptathlon begins at 10:15. A full day of events concludes with the men’s 3,000-meter steeplechase at 5:35 p.m. and the women’s steeple at 5:55 p.m. In all, 12 champions will be crowned on the first day of competition.
Friday’s schedule opens with the first of the final five decathlon events at 9 a.m., with the heptathlon resuming at 10. Field events begin with the shot put at 11:15 and the men’s 4x100-meter relay gets the track events rolling at 1 p.m. The day concludes with the men’s and women’s 4x400-meter relays at 4:25 and 4:40, respectively, followed by the awards ceremony. Thirty events will crown champions on the final day of the meet.
Western Carolina will be seeking its third consecutive men’s title and eighth overall, while Samford will try to defend its 2017 crown and win its third overall.
Last season, the Catamounts earned a six-point win over Samford on the men’s side, trailing by 20 points after the first day but taking a one-point lead into the final event of the meet, the 4x400-meter relay. Western Carolina won the relay for the seventh consecutive year to lock up the team title.
The women’s race wasn’t nearly as close, as Samford, competing at its home track, dethroned two-time defending champion Western Carolina by 51 points.
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 week’s championships – predict wins for Western Carolina on both sides.
The Catamount men own 213.5 points in the power rankings, putting them well ahead of Samford’s 158.5 and ETSU’s 132.5. Western Carolina scored in all but the 1,500-meter run, the 3,000-meter run and the javelin throw.
The Western Carolina women hold a slimmer margin over Samford, accruing 180 points to the Bulldogs’ 156.5. The Catamounts totaled 108.5 points in the field events.
This year’s championship is free to the public. Live results, daily recaps, photos and video highlights can be found at SoConSports.com.
- The championship meets are being held in Cullowhee, North Carolina, for the fifth time. Western Carolina previously hosted in 2005, 2008, 2012 and 2016.
- All of the winners of the individual superlatives from last year return this season. On the men’s side, Most Outstanding Athlete and Most Outstanding Field Performer Ben Johnson of ETSU is back, as are Most Outstanding Track Performers Malik Diggs of The Citadel and Dakota Lamont of Western Carolina and Freshman of the Year Devaniel Dale of Western Carolina. On the women’s side, Most Outstanding Athlete Kyra Atkins of ETSU, Most Outstanding Track Performer Dasha Arnaut of Western Carolina, Most Outstanding Field Performer Selena Popp of Samford and Freshman of the Year Jazmine Gooden of Western Carolina return.
- On the men’s side, the winners of a whopping 16 of the 19 individual events from 2017 are back this season. Double winners that return include: WCU’s Lamont (200-meter dash, 400-meter dash); Furman’s Frank Lara (5,000-meter run, 10,000-meter run); The Citadel’s Diggs (110-meter hurdles, 400-meter hurdles); and ETSU’s Johnson (discus throw, javelin throw).
- The women return the winners of 12 of the 19 individual events. ETSU’s Atkins won the 200-meter dash and the 100-meter hurdles, while Western Carolina’s Arnaut won the 400-meter dash and the 400-meter hurdles.
- Samford senior Tray Oates will be looking for his third straight outdoor pole vault title. In February, Oates became the first student-athlete in SoCon history to win the indoor event four times. He currently has the fourth-best mark on the NCAA Division I performance list with a height of 5.66 meters (18 feet, 6.75 inches), which would easily surpass the meet record of 5.50 meters that he set at the 2016 meet.
- Samford’s Keyth Fightmaster and Marquis Barnes are seeking their third titles in the high jump and long jump, respectively, each after earning wins in 2015 and 2017. ETSU’s Simeon Roberts has claimed the last two titles in the 3000-meter steeplechase.
- The Citadel’s Mady Riegel is vying for her third consecutive title in the javelin. Furman’s Allie Buchalski is the two-time defending champion in the 5,000-meter run, while Atkins has won the last two titles in the 100-meter hurdles.
- Four meet records were set last season on the women’s side: Buchalski in the 5,000-meter run (16:12.98), Atkins in the 100-meter hurdles (13.25 seconds), ETSU’s Katrina Seymour in the 400-meter hurdles (58.15 seconds in the prelims), and Samford’s Maggie Johnston in the discus (47.08 meters/154 feet, 5 inches). Buchalski has run 15:39.17 in the 5,000m this season, and Johnston has turned in a throw of 48.80 meters (160 feet, 1 inch) in the discus this regular season.
2018 SoCon men’s outdoor track and field power rankings
Western Carolina 213.5
The Citadel 96
2018 SoCon women’s outdoor track and field power rankings
Western Carolina 180
The Citadel 33.5