SPARTANBURG, S.C. – Samford’s Selena Popp earned her third consecutive Most Outstanding Field Performer honor, Furman’s Ryan Adams was named the Most Outstanding Track Performer for the second time in his career and Samford’s Rod Tiffin was named the women’s coach of the year for the fourth straight year to headline the individual specialty awards as voted by the Southern Conference coaches following last weekend’s SoCon Indoor Track and Field Championships.
Samford claimed three individual honors overall, while ETSU and Western Carolina earned two each. Furman and Wofford had one award apiece.
Coaches were not allowed to vote for their own student-athletes or themselves.
Popp, who also earned Most Outstanding Athlete honors at the meet for the second straight season as the top point-scorer, won the pentathlon and high jump, each for the third straight season. The senior from Hixon, Tennessee, also ran the anchor leg on the Bulldogs’ winning 4x400-meter relay and finished third in the long jump.
Samford’s Karisa Nelson joined Popp and Tiffin in earning postseason recognition, as she shared female Most Outstanding Track Performer honors with Wofford’s McLeod Dean. Nelson made the most of her two events on the weekend, winning both the 800-meter run and the mile with meet-record times. The 2017 NCAA champion in the mile, Nelson reclaimed the SoCon title in the event after missing last season’s league meet with an injury, finishing in 4:38.23 to take more than five seconds off her own championship record from two years ago. The senior from Brewton, Alabama, erased an 18-year-old meet record in the 800, winning in 2:06.10 to take more than two seconds off the mark set by SoCon Hall of Famer Mary Jayne Harrelson of Appalachian State in 2001.
Tiffin led the Bulldogs to their fourth straight women’s title. Samford totaled 172 points to easily outdistance runner-up Western Carolina and won seven of the 17 women’s events, with Nelson setting a pair of meet records.
Wofford’s Dean became the Terriers’ first-ever specialty award winner in indoor track and field after winning a pair of events. The senior from Maryville, Tennessee, won the 60-meter dash and the 200-meter dash and ran the lead leg on Wofford’s fourth-place 4x400-meter relay. She set a school record in the 60-meter dash, winning in 7.52 seconds. Dean, who personally accounted for 21.5 points in the meet, helped Wofford score a program-best 78 points and tie its best-ever finish of fifth.
ETSU’s Mekayla Brown was named the female Freshman of the Year after scoring in three events for the Bucs. The rookie from Elgin, South Carolina, finished second in the triple jump, fifth in the long jump and seventh in the 60-meter dash, accounting for 14 points in helping ETSU to a third-place team finish.
On the men’s side, Furman’s Adams was named the Most Outstanding Track Performer for the second time in three years after posting a trio of podium finishes. The junior from Hudson, Ohio, won his second career title in the 800-meter run, edging the runner-up by just 0.43 seconds. He finished second in the mile, again by a razor-thin margin (0.63 seconds), and ran the opening, 1,200-meter leg on the Paladins’ second-place distance medley relay.
ETSU’s Ben Johnson was named the Most Outstanding Field Performer after winning both of the throws. On Saturday, he won his first SoCon indoor title in the shot put with a throw of 16.39 meters. The following day, he successfully defended his title in the weight throw, hurling the implement 21.60 meters.
Western Carolina’s Trini Feggett was named the Freshman of the Year after earning the Heath Whittle Award as the Most Outstanding Athlete for scoring 28.5 points at the meet. The Blythewood, South Carolina, native won three events and placed fourth in another in his debut league meet. Feggett won the 200-meter dash, the long jump and the 4x400-meter relay, running the anchor leg for the Catamounts. He also finished third in the 60-meter dash for his fourth podium finish.
Norman earned his first Coach of the Year after leading the Catamounts to their sixth consecutive SoCon indoor title in his first year at the helm for his alma mater. Western Carolina won five events, with Devaniel Dale’s 400-meter dash win and Dijon Huitt’s triple jump victory complementing Feggett’s wins in the 200 and long jump and the Catamounts’ eighth straight win in the 4x400. The Catamounts totaled 165.5 team points to finish 27 ahead of runner-up Samford.
Male Most Outstanding Track Performer
Ryan Adams, Furman
Female Most Outstanding Track Performers
Karisa Nelson, Samford
McLeod Dean, Wofford
Male Most Outstanding Field Performer
Ben Johnson, ETSU
Female Most Outstanding Field Performer
Selena Popp, Samford
Male Freshman of the Year
Trini Feggett, Western Carolina
Female Freshman of the Year
Mekayla Brown, ETSU
Men’s Coach of the Year
Jesse Norman, Western Carolina
Women’s Coach of the Year
Rod Tiffin, Samford