JONESBORO, Ark. (2/24/13) – The Arkansas State University men's and women's track and field teams completed opening day competition with mixed results at the 2013 Sun Belt Conference (SBC) Indoor Track & Field Championships this Sunday (Feb. 24) in Jonesboro, Ark.
The ASU women's team presently leads the 10-team field with a first-place 40 points and is 3.5 points ahead of second-place Middle Tennessee. On the men's side, the Red Wolves currently occupy fourth place with a 27-points total and are 12 points in back of third-place Louisiana-Lafayette in the nine-team field.
The 2013 SBC Indoor Championships, hosted by Arkansas State, are being held at the ASU Convocation Center for the second time in the last three years. The second and final day of competition will be held this Monday (Feb. 25).
Junior Sharika Nelvis established a new conference championship record in the women's long jump at 20-09.0 (6.32m) to garner first place. Nelvis, a three-time SBC Indoor Track Athlete of the Week selection (Jan. 9 & 30 and Feb. 13), shattered the mark of 6.26m set by Nyeisha Wright of Middle Tennessee on Feb. 27, 2010 and also recorded the ninth-best showing nationally this indoor campaign.
Senior Julia Agawu placed second in the shot put with a 48-02.5 throw (14.69m) while junior Kim Raath turned in a fifth-place throw of 45-09.25 (13.95m) as the Red Wolves totaled 12 points in the event.
ASU claimed four of the top 10 places in the 3,000-meter run as junior Kristina Aubert led the way with a second-place time of 9:53.55 to help the Red Wolves receive eight points. Sophomore Rexi Parcells clocked a 10:11.15 time to garner sixth place and three points in meet scoring for ASU.
Sophomore Savannah Hutchinson was ASU's top finisher in the high jump as she cleared the bar at 5-03.75 (1.62m) to garner a three-way tie for seventh place.
In the final event of day one, the distance medley relay team of senior Samantha Salinas, sophomore Heather Newberry, freshman Charlotte Williams, and Kristina Aubert recorded a third-place time of 12:09.47 to earn six team points.
Behind Arkansas State (40) and Middle Tennessee (36.5) are North Texas (34), Western Kentucky (26), and South Alabama (19.5). FIU (19), Georgia State (10), Louisiana-Lafayette (8), Florida Atlantic (1), and Troy (1) round out the field.
"We're ahead of where I thought we would be," said ASU head coach Jim Patchell about the women's team first-place position. "I'm proud of them and we have a shot tofinish up (the championships) pretty well."
Arkansas State captured three of the top seven places in the men's pole vault. Senior John Ellis vaulted a team-best 15-11.0 (4.85m) to earn third-place honors, one placing in front of junior Ethan Sandusky's fourth-place 15-05.0 (4.70m) performance.
Junior Shane Heathcock was among three individuals claiming a tie for fifth place as a result of going over the bar at 15-05.0 (4.70m) to give ASU 14 points out of a possible 39 total
In the long jump, junior Will Oliver achieved a distance of 22-08.00 (6.91m) to finish eighth place.
Junior Kashef Daniel's jump of 6-08.75 (2.05m) in the high jump proved deserving of a fourth-place finish. Junior Chris Nicasio attained seventh-place laurels in the shot put by recording a throw of 52-10.0 (16.10m).
The Red Wolves' distance medley relay squad consisting of seniors Briar Becton and Lucas Bateman along with junior Richard Williams and freshman Lance Beckman garnered fourth place with a time of 10:17.83 to pick up four team points.
In multi-event action, senior Ethan Turpen is second in the men's heptathlon after four complete events with a score of 2,920 points. Turpen's highlight of the day came in the high jump where he finished first with a mark of 6-05.0 (1.96m).
Will Oliver is third in the standings (2,898 pts.), highlighted by a pair of first-place showings in the 55-meter dash with a 6.73 time and in the long jump with a distance of 23-00.0 (7.01m). Junior Thomas Ligon has accumulated a fourth-place 2,837 points heading into Monday's final day of competition.
Ligon took top honors in the shot put with throw of 49-03.5 (15.02m).
Western Kentucky (46) leads the pack followed by North Texas (40), Louisiana-Lafayette (39), Arkansas State (27), and South Alabama (23). ULM (22), Middle Tennessee (17), FIU (11), and UALR (9) finish out the team scoring after day one of events.
"We came in expecting to be among the leaders, but we lost some mental focus in a couple of events and it hurt us," said Patchell. "The guys came into the meet a little too overconfident so we're going to need to make up some ground if we're going to be still in the hunt."
The final day of competition at the SBC Indoor Championships is this Monday (Feb. 25), starting at 9 a.m. (CT) with the women's weight throw and triple jump events along with 55-meter hurdles in the women's pentathalon.
The running events get underway at 1 p.m. (CT) with the men's and women's mile run. The final event of the conference championships is the 4x400-meter relay in both men's and women's competition, which is slated for a 4:40 p.m. (CT) start time.