By Steve Holt, Sports Writer
Before most of the ACU women’s track and field athletes arrived in Stephenville for the Lone Star Conference Championships, they knew they were leading the field.
Thanks to freshman Jessica Withrow, that is.
The 5-5 freshman won the heptathlon competition, which took place Monday and Tuesday, in dominant fashion, garnering a nation-leading 5,042 points in the process.
Withrow, a 2004 graduate of Muleshoe High School, won five of seven events, including the 100-meter hurdles (15.10), high jump (5-8 3/4), 200-meter dash (25.79), 800-meter run (2:29.98) and the long jump (18-1 3/4).
Withrow and teammate Jessica Blair, a junior who finished third in the competition with 4,392 points, combined to give ACU a leading score of 16 points going into Friday and Saturday’s running events and relays.
For the men, junior Jon-Daniel Todd placed seventh in the decathlon with 5,696 points, good for one team point going into the regular competition.
The rest of the ACU men and women began competing Friday, the men seeking their 13th straight conference title and the women attempting to break a two-year runner-up streak.
“They’re excited about it, the women’s team especially,” head coach Don Hood said of this weekend’s championship. “They feel like they should win – it’s been two years since they’ve won.”
Hood said the women’s team will be looking to score as many points as it can, and Withrow’s dominating performance in the heptathlon is certainly a good start.
“We’ve had girls come up and ask if they can do more events than they’re down for, so they just want to score as many points as they can score,” he said. “It’s just a matter of us being tough.”
One of the main factors in the last two disappointing LSC meets for the women has been injuries or eligibility. Hood said that not only is the women’s team 100 percent healthy, it is deep in every event as well. ACU women and relays are No. 1 in 13 of 15 events going into the meet.
The men’s team is the heavy favorite to repeat as champion, as Wildcat athletes and relays have leading marks in 12 of the 15 events.
Hood said he told his men’s team not to worry about times, but about placing well in their events.
“I think we’re four or five deep in almost every event on the track,” Hood said. “If that’s the case, we’re going to be hard to beat.”
The field events will begin Friday at 3 p.m., while running events will begin at 5 p.m. Saturday’s final events will kick off at noon with field competition, followed by the running finals at 5 p.m.