Mountain Lions Wrap Up Indoor Track Season with Solid Competition at the RMAC Championships
The UCCS Mountain Lions performed admirably this last weekend at the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference Championships setting four NCAA qualifying marks, producing 10 All-RMAC honors, three school records and one RMAC Champion. In the team scores UCCS finished 6th on both the men's and women's sides equaling the 6th place finishes by both programs at last year's championships.
The first day of competition saw the multi-events athletes kick off the meet with the pentathlon (five events) on the women's side and the heptathlon (seven events) on the men's side. Freshman Lauren Roberts broke the 3000 point barrier in only her second ever pentathlon and in doing so gained All-RMAC honors and a new school record of 3009 points. Lauren sat in 11th place going into her last event, the 800m run and produced an exceptional performance to run a 10 second best and moved up to 6th place finish overall. Closely behind her was another freshman Jessica Todd who also set a new lifetime best in the event scoring 2942 points. During the Long Jump competition Jessica Todd also broke the school record, leaping to a new best of 5.22m. Her weekend had not finished there as she would also be a vital part of the women's 4x400m Relay Team. Despite a season plagued by injuries, the senior trio of Ailena McDonald, Jess Luna, and Alli Watson also competed valiantly for UCCS. The athletes posted a number of personal bests in the day's events, showing great resiliency and leadership while finishing with strong efforts in the 800 meter run.
In his final indoor conference meet, senior Brien Hopkins looked to continue his streak of RMAC All-Conference performances. Hopkins had previously earned All-Conference honors in every indoor and outdoor conference meet of his career. Using a career best second day effort, Hopkins did not disappoint as he moved up three places to finish fifth in the strong competition, which saw the top three finishers post national qualifying marks. Hopkins best events all came on day two, which saw him post career bests in the 55 meter hurdles and pole vault. Hopkins mark of 4.25 meters (13'11.25") moved him to #4 on the UCCS all-time list and was the best among all heptathletes. Also scoring for the Mountain Lions was senior Canyon Parcell, who finished 8th with 4129 points. Parcell turned in solid efforts across the board and closed with a gutsy performance in the 1000 meter run to conclude the meet. Freshman Zach Wood also competed strong for UCCS, finishing 9th and posting season bests in a number of events.
Leading the charge on day two of the competition were the female pole vault duo of juniors Alex Colvin and Christy Carmody. Colvin easily made first attempt clearances on her first three heights while Carmody created suspense with 2 misses at 3.45 meters before scraping over the bar on her third attempt. Joining Colvin with a clearance at 3.60 meters left the two athletes as the only remaining competitors. Both just missed attempts at 3.75 meters (12'3.5"). This forced the competition to come down to misses, making Colvin the 2012 RMAC Indoor Champion. The performance of 3.60 meters (11'9.75") was a season's best for both athletes, which places them tied for 22nd in the nation.The male pole vault crew of freshman David Krumland (4.30 meters/14'1.25") and sophomore Chris Myers (4.15 meters/13'7.25") finished 6th and 7th. The meet closed strong indoor seasons from both athletes; Krumland in his collegiate debut and Myers, who displayed marked improvement from a year ago.
Other highlights in the jumping events came from a quartet of underclassmen. Freshman TJ Frison leaped 6.70 meters (21'11.75") to finish 5th in the long jump and earn All-Conference honors. He currently sits at #2 all-time on the UCCS indoor record book. Freshman Seth Martin finished in a tie for sixth place in the high jump with a
1.93 meter (6'4) effort. He closes the 2012 indoor season ranked tied for 23rd in the nation. Sophomore Erika Cushnie, despite competing in only one prior meet due to volleyball commitments for UCCS, showed little signs of rust with a seventh place finish in a deep field. Her mark of 1.64 meters (5'4.5") was only three centimeters from her career best, which set during last year's conference indoor meet. Chelsie Overocker also posted a season's best of 11.26 meters (36'11.5") and placing 8th. Overocker's performance is impressive considering nearly all of her fall training was lost due to injuries.
The 400 meter run saw two UCCS mountain lions advance from the prelims to make the RMAC championship finals. Travis Whitman ran to a new lifetime best of 50.13 to make it to finals as the eighth seed, while Jonathan wright also advanced as the number seven seed. Jonathan Wright would go on to take All-Conference honors placing fifth overall in the final. Wright and Whitman also teamed up with Marc Hensley and Alan Ford to be part of a memorable 4x400 meter relay final. The UCCS Mountain Lions exchanged leads with University of Nebraska-Kearney and Adams State throughout the race and led going into the last exchange keeping all inside the NPAC facility on tenterhooks. They were to be denied there first RMAC Championship since 2010 when great anchor legs from both UNK and Adams State meant they took 3rd place in their heat and a 5th place finish on time overall.
There were a slew of personal bests in the men's 800 meter run highlighted by Anthony Davis setting a new personal best of 1:53.51 and taking All-Conference honors for the second indoor season in a row. Davis's time was also an NCAA provisional national qualifying time. Narrowly behind him was freshman Carson Aberle who improved his lifetime best by almost a second taking 7th place in 1:54.02 and barely missing all-Conference honors in his first ever RMAC Championship. Two other freshman also set new bests in their first ever conference championships. Kyle McCloskey who has improved in every meet this season continued his run of form lowering his best by another two seconds to finish at 1:56.43. Dante Mendoza has now improved three seconds since his senior year of high school and just missed going under the two minute barrier clocking 2:00.33.
There were also points scored in the women's 800 meters where Alexa Urban recorded a 7th place finish. She has now scored in all three RMAC Championships she has competed in on the track. Urban, along with the inform Jessica Todd, and fellow athletes Emily Weeks and Kim Fitzgerald, capped off a great day of competition for the women's team setting a new school record of 4:00.76. This was an especially remarkable performance considering there was not one 400 meter specialist on the team. Urban and Fitzgerald both compete in the middle distance events and Todd and Weeks are both Jumps/Multi-event athletes.
The distance side was highlighted by Mike English's all-RMAC performance in the men's 5000 meters. English's NCAA II national's provisional qualifying time of 14:44.42 placed him fifth overall and ahead of seven of the twelve all-Americans in the field. His time also ranks him third on the all-time UCCS list behind former all-Americans Trent Briney and Levi Brathall. English also earned USTFCCCA all-Academic team status for the track season by obtaining the provisional qualifying mark in his event and carrying over a 3.25 GPA. Also running well for the men was Sam Feldotto who placed 12th in a loaded field while running the fourth fastest 3000 meters in UCCS history when he clocked an 8:35.45. Ryan Derrick was also just outside the all-time top five list in 8:44.52. Ian Penn and Oliver Williams also notched personal bests and Ted Schultz was just outside of his top time of the indoor season.
The men's distance medley relay team of Matt Winfrey, Alan Ford, Anthony Davis and Matt Cameron also placed fourth and the women's DMR of Alexa Urban, Emily Weeks, Kim Fitzgerald and Veronica Sandoval placed fifth to also garner valuable points for the team.
In a turbulent indoor season that saw the UCCS mountain lion track team's lose their indoor practice facility, battle weather, illness and injury, there were eight NCAA Qualifying marks set, demonstrating the resiliency of both the student-athletes and coaching staff. From those athletes Matt Cameron will be the sole competitor to advance to the NCAA Championships where he will be ranked as the 8th best 800m runner in NCAA Division II. Those Championships start Friday 9th March, and will be held in Mankato, Minnesota.
On a final note, these championships marked the end of a four year coaching stint for Assistant Jumps coach Brandon Masters. Masters, who will be moving to Florida with a job promotion with his full-time job had radically changed the record books for field event athletes during his time at UCCS. Masters developed UCCS' first ever All-American in a jumps event when leading Steven Gomez to a 7 foot jump and three NCAA Championship appearances in the men's high jump. More recently Masters coached Lauren Graham to three All-American accolades in the women's Pole Vault, highlighted by a runner up finish at the indoor NCAA Championships last year. Conference champions were produced in the men's long jump, men's high jump, and women's pole vault with countless school records, All-RMAC and All-Region honors during Masters four year spell. His success is all the more remarkable considering his athletes never had the use of their own indoor or outdoor training facility. We wish him well in his new role, and he will be dearly missed.
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