NORMAN, Okla. — Led by three more individual titles, the UTSA men's track & field program put the finishing touches on an unprecedented seventh consecutive Southland Conference Indoor Championship on Saturday.
The Roadrunners, who came into the meet tied with Lamar (1980-85) for the Southland's longest stretch of crowns, scored 134 points (second-best total in program history) and they easily outdistanced runner-up UT Arlington (99). Competing at the meet for the final time, UTSA now is second only to UTA (eight) in all-time victories.
"This has been an amazing streak and it wouldn't be possible without the hard work of our student-athletes, especially the seniors, and my assistant coaches," six-time Southland Indoor Coach of the Year Aaron Fox said after the meet. "We wouldn't be where we're at as a program today without the dedication they have shown. I also want to thank the Southland Conference for everything they've done for us and I've really enjoyed being part of the league. This is the first and only conference I've ever coached in and it has been fun competing against the other schools."
The Birds received winning performances from junior Richard Garrett Jr. (shot put) and sophomores Keyunta Hayes (60-meter hurdles) and Chrishunn Jamerson (800m) on the final day of action. Those wins came on the heels of gold-medal performances by juniors Keith Benford (high jump), Phil Steinert (weight throw) and Tyler Williamson (long jump) on Friday night. Benford won his third consecutive title, while Garrett Jr. and Williamson captured their second straight.
The league-record-tying six championships pushed the program's all-time total to 62 and 38 of those have come under the direction of Fox.
UTSA came into the final day with a commanding 22-point lead and a meet-high 11 athletes in the running finals, but it had to stave off a rally midway through the day by the Mavericks. In the end, however, the Roadrunners just had too much depth to overcome.
Garrett Jr. easily defended his shot put crown with his 60-8 ½ (18.50m) measurement, which was the program's fourth all-time. That was nearly three-and-a-half feet better than his nearest competitor and he was one of four Roadrunners who combined to score 16 points. Freshman Andrew Akens (53-9/16.38m) and seniors Daniel Rodriguez (53-0 ¾/16.17m) and Mike Sanchez (52-2 ¼/15.98m) finished sixth through eighth, respectively.
Meanwhile, Hayes cruised to his hurdles victory in a career-best 7.89 and it marked the school's seventh gold medal in the event. Freshman Emmanuel Shaw crossed the line in sixth (PR 8.32), giving UTSA another 13 points toward its team total. Hayes went on to finish third in the 400m an hour later with another personal record, this time to the tune of 48.71.
Jamerson finished off the first-place performances after clocking 1:54.26 in the 800m, as a total of three Roadrunners combined to score 15 points. Fellow sophomores Brady Hand (1:54.91) and Joshua Smith (1:55.88) were fifth and eighth, respectively.
UTSA also saw two other athletes and its 1,600m relay race to all-conference accolades with third-place performances.
Senior Cole Reveal clocked a 8:27.98 in the 3k and junior Nate Brunette peeled off a 22.00 in the deuce, while the quartet of junior Darryl Wyrick, freshman Christopher Hall, Hayes and junior James Pailin circled the oval eight times in 3:18.94.
Other scorers on Saturday included junior Ronson Small [fourth triple jump (PR 49-0 ¾/14.95m)], Wyrick [sixth 400m (PR 49.21)], freshman Trayvion Martin [sixth triple jump (PR 47-9 ¾/14.57m)] and sophomore Mike Medrano [eigth mile (4:16.43)].
The Roadrunners will be back in action in two weeks at the NCAA Championships, which are scheduled for March 9-10 in Nampa, Idaho.