The men and women’s track and field teams finished second and fourth in the team standings this past weekend at the Southland Conference track and field championship meet.
The highest point scored in the meet on the men’s side was junior thrower Kai Schmidt. He won individual conference championships in shot put (60 feet, 3.75 inches), discus (188-1) and finished third in javelin (203-5).
The Wildcats finished only 14 points behind Sam Houston State, the conference champion.
More men’s victories included sophomore Avery Williams in the 400m, with a new personal-best of 46.30, and in the 4×400 relay, which also included freshman Jared Williams, sophomore Blaze Brownlow and sophomore Ryan Linton. The 4×400 relay finished in 3:07.75, almost two seconds in front of second-place Stephen F. Austin (3:09.46).
ACU runners earned a total of 21 points in the men’s 400m. Williams finished first with 10 points, while Brownlow finished second with eight points, and Jared Williams earned three points in sixth place. Junior Ryan Cleary won the 3000m steeplechase and finished fourth in the 1500m with a time of 3:51.74, earning additional five points. Lee-Andrew Bloomfield placed fifth in the 400 hurdles (53.99), adding four points to the Wildcats’ team total.
The 4×100 relay team of Le’Gari Daniels, Avery Williams, Wyatt Duvall and Linton finished fifth with a time of 40.41.
The Wildcats swept the podium in men’s discuss, with Schmidt taking the top spot, followed by Josh Hunter (183-5), Ryan Simmons (182-5) and Morgan Knight (180-8). Junior Jaden Dement placed sixth in pole vault. Knight also placed fourth in hammer throw (184-3) and McKennon Cecil finished sixth in javelin, 199-0.
On the women’s side, the Wildcats drastically improved to fourth from last year’s ninth-place finish, with a total of 37 points.
Senior Michaela Hackett said her team was energetic and focused the entire meet.
“There was so much excitement at the meet, and we had first places finishes in multiple events on both the men’s and women’s side, so seeing our teammates do well hyped us up for our own events,” Michaela said. “The team was extremely supportive of one another and were always cheering for those competing.”
Michaela won the 5000m (16:52.63), beating her twin sister and teammate, Allie Hackett, who came in second with a time of 16:55.76. Carnley Graham and Diana Garcia-Munoz finished fifth and seventh, respectively, with times of 17:49.39 and 17:53.90. ACU earned 24 points in the 5000m.
Kayla Melgar won the conference title with a mark of 175-7 in the women’s discus, with Lonnie Smith finishing third (164-3) and Annina Brandenburg coming in sixth (159-1). Melgar also finished third in hammer, setting a new school record of 190-3 mark. Smith finished sixth.
Sophomore Reagan Mabery was fourth in javelin (137-11), and Brandenburg was sixth with a mark of 134-4. Mackenzie West finished third in pole vault (12-3.50).
Freshman Irene Akwitti finished seventh in the 100m hurdles, earning two points, while the 4×100 relay team of Tori Hardy, Mya Henson, Taylor Tolen and Karrington Lewis came in sixth in 46.28 seconds.
“A few of my teammates and I are heading to the NCAA West Preliminary round, where we will compete against some top runners in the nation, and I hope to PR.” Hackett said.
The ACU coaching staff and athletes are waiting to see who has qualified for the NCAA West Region preliminary meet at Sacramento University on May 24-26. Qualifiers out of that meet will go to the NCAA Division 1 national championship meet on June 6-9 at Hayward Stadium in Eugene, Oregon.