SAN MARCOS — Junior All-American Richard Garrett Jr. won the shot put for UTSA's first-ever throws gold medal in Southland Conference Outdoor Championship competition on Saturday and the second-place Roadrunners will enter the final day of action within striking distance of their third title in the last five years after picking up 19 points on first-place McNeese State.
Garrett Jr. launched a school-record heave of 61-8 ¼ (18.80m), which added nearly two feet to the standard he set at last year's NCAA Preliminary Rounds (60-0 ½/18.30m). The Garland native won the event by more than four feet and also moved up to 16th place on the national leaderboard. His performance led a trio of Roadrunners who combined to score 15 points, as freshman Andrew Akens (55-5 ½/16.90m) and senior Mike Sanchez (52-5 ½/15.99m) placed fifth and eighth, respectively.
"I went into it knowing that we needed to get points," Garrett Jr. said. "I just wanted to do my part and encourage my teammates to do what they needed to do. After having a pretty good throw early on, I felt like I could start going after it, so I could build off it going into the NCAA meet."
UTSA also saw juniors Keith Benford and Tyler Williamson record runner-up finishes in the high and long jump, respectively, during the meet's second day of action.
Benford, the defending champion, cleared 7-0 ½ (2.15m), which was the same height as UT Arlington's Isiah Clements and Texas A&M-Corpus Christi's Roger De La Cruz, but Clements was declared the gold medalist due to fewer misses. Sophomore Kerry Thompson's fifth-place effort of 6-10 ¾ (2.10m) gave the Birds a dozen points in the event.
Meanwhile, Williamson broke the sand in a wind-aided 24-8 ¼ (7.52m), but that was more than a foot shy of Stephen F. Austin's Jamal Peden, who won the event with a mark of 25-8 ¾ (7.84m).
In the track preliminary heats, sophomore Keyunta Hayes broke the program record in the 110-meter hurdles for the third consecutive meet with his windy 13.67 clocking, which topped the 15-man field. It also moved him up four places to 12th in the NCAA standings. The Tyler native and defending league champion went on to post the afternoon's third-fastest 400m hurdles mark (52.87), as three Roadrunners that advanced to Sunday's final. Junior Darryl Wyrick (52.32) and sophomore Joshua Smith (52.56) were the others and the trio recorded the top three times of the prelims.
All told, UTSA advanced a conference-best 11 runners into Sunday's finals, while McNeese State, which leads the Roadrunners by a score of 65-51 through eight scored events, saw just one athlete move on.
The three-day meet concludes on Sunday.