Behind three titlists, Saint Augustine's sprints to its 12th indoor championship
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. -- Led by the strength of its sprinters, Saint Augustine's claimed the NCAA Division II Men's Indoor Track and Field Championship on Saturday at the Birmingham Cross Plex.
The title is the latest achievement in the illustrious history of the famed Saint Augustine's track and field program. The Falcons have won 12 men's indoor crowns and 32 national championships overall under legendary head coach George Williams.
“The kids stepped up,” said Williams, coaching his 37th season at St. Aug. “They wanted it and they got it. Everybody chipped in and did their part to win it.”
The Falcons scored 72 points to earn the title. Ashland was second with 59.50 points and Adams State finished third with 55 points.
The Falcons produced three national individual champions in the running events. Moussa Dembele won the 60-meter hurdles, Dane Hyatt captured the 400-meter dash and Jermaine Jones was the victor in the 200-meter dash.
It was Jones' victory in the 200 dash that helped the Falcons separate themselves from the pack. They entered the race tied with Ashland for the lead with 47 points, but Jones led three Saint Augustine's runners who scored in the event. Jones won in 21.03 seconds and teammate Josh Edmonds was third in 21.36. Hyatt, who was eighth in 24.36, was the top seed in the 200 but ran injured.
The Falcons scored 17 points in the 200 which gave them the cushion they needed. They led Ashland 64-49.5 with two events left.
“Even though Dane ran hurt, Jermaine stepped up,” Williams said. “That race turned the whole thing around. Nobody could catch us then.”
With victory pretty much assured, the Falcons capped the championship meet with a second-place finish in the 4x400 relay. Even with the injured Hyatt sitting out the relay, the Falcons still ran 3:10.63.
The Falcons, who entered Saturday with one point, got off to a brilliant start. DeJon Wilkinson placed second and David Shaw Jr. was sixth in the triple jump to give the Falcons 11 points in the first event. Wilkinson leaped 51-11 and Shaw jumped 49-9 3/4.
Then Dembele defended his top ranking in the 60 hurdles by winning a tight race. Dembele ran 7.84 to hold off Sabiel Anderson of Lincoln (Mo.), who was second in 7.85. Ty'reak Murray of the Falcons was third in 7.93, giving Saint Augustine's 16 more points. That moved the Falcons into second place with 28 points. They trailed by one to Central Missouri at the time.
Jones gave the Falcons their first lead when he finished fifth in the 60 dash in 6.78. His four points put the Falcons up 32-29 against Central Missouri after nine events. After Adams State surged ahead with a big showing in the mile run, the Falcons moved back in front after Hyatt won the 400 dash in 46.71. With Edmonds finishing fifth in the 400 in 47.48, the Falcons scored 14 points in the race for a 46-41 lead versus Adams State.
Marcelis Lynch of the Falcons was eighth in the 800 in 1:54.27, but Ashland won the event to move into a tie with the Falcons before their depth in the sprints proved to be the difference.