The women’s track team came back to Cullowhee Saturday night with more hardware than the stock at Lowes. For the third-straight year, the Lady Cats captured the Southern Conference Outdoor Track Championship. The event held last weekend in Lexington, Va., proved to be an exhausting yet rewarding three days.
The women’s team scored 230.50 points to claim victory. Appalachian State came in second with 170 points, and Chattanooga was third with 144.
Chattanooga’s Tyleana Hanner and Western Carolina’s Virginia LaCombe both tied for most outstanding female performer. Hanner won the long jump and set a meet record in the heptathlon. She also placed third in the triple jump and fourth in the high jump. LaCombe won the high jump with a meet record of 5-9.75 and finished second in the heptathlon, third in the 100-meter hurdles, and fourth in the triple jump.
Junior Ashley Herndon claimed her third-straight SoCon javelin title with a throw of 128-08. She also won the shot put with a heave of 44’00.00 and finished second in discus with a mark of 129’01.00.
Freshman Barbara Lee Palmer won the hammer throw with a hammer of 151’02.00. Teammate sophomore Quiletta Dunston was right behind in second place with a throw of 145’02.00.
Senior Valerie Jalajas captured victory in the pole vault by setting a new meet record. Her height of 11’11.25 shattered the mark of 11’07.75 she set last year. Freshman teammate Michelle Velz cleared 11’07.75 to get second place. In the long jump, sophomore Cedea Bowden leaped 19’01.25 to earn second place.
In the running events, sophomore Ronetta Burgess took second place in both the 200-meter dash and the 100-meter hurdles with times of 24.74 and 14.46, respectively.
The women’s 4×100-meter relay composed of Bonetta Boyd, Ashlyn Little, Bowden, and Burgess ran 46.81 to gain second place.
Western Carolina’s Danny Williamson was the women’s coach of the year for the third straight year.
“The coach of the year award is a reflection of how well our athletes perform, and all of our other coaches,” said Williamson. “They too are so deserving of this.”
The overlooked men behind the scenes are David T. Price Jr., Phillip Johnson, Doug Brown, Colin Webster, and Dr. Jake Wakely.
The men’s team barely squeaked past VMI for second place. Sophomore Derrick High, anchor of the 4×400-meter relay, passed the VMI runner in the homestretch to claim victory and beat the Keydets by one point. The final outcome of the meet was Appalachian State with 221 points, Western Carolina 156, and VMI 155.
Western Carolina’s Nick McNeil was named the freshman of the year after he posted a second place finish in the hammer and third place in the discus.
“Nick did an outstanding job with the situation being so young,” Williamson said. “He really stepped it up and provided a good punch for us in the weight events.”
Junior Charles Rice captured victory in the pole vault soaring to a height of 16’04.00.
Senior Akaba Glaspie blazed to a 10.78 in the 100-meter dash to take first place. Glaspie also took fourth place in the 200-meter dash, right behind High, who finished second. High clocked a 21.67 and Glaspie a 21.88.
High also won the 400-meter dash with a time of 47.54. In the 800-meter run, Caleb Bailey ran 1:53.09 to obtain a second place finish. Bailey also finished second in the 1500-meter run crossing the finish line in 3:53.79.
The men’s 4×100-meter relay complied of Donnie Bryant, Tim Vaught, High, and Glaspie ran 41.00 to earn them a trip to the victory stand.
“We are very happy with the way both teams performed,” Williamson said. “We felt like they both put it all out there to give us every opportunity possible for us to be successful. The effort the men’s team gave is worthy of a championship.”