Louisville wins first Big East title
LOUISVILLE, Ky. -- Track and field coach Ron Mann knows what it takes to win. Prior to arriving at Louisville, he had accumulated 58 conference titles.
On Sunday afternoon, at the Big East Indoor Championships, Mann helped guide the University of Louisville women's track and field team to its first indoor conference title -- fourth overall, with three outdoor titles -- topping Connecticut, 110-108.5.
Following the championships, Mann and assistant coaches Brice Allen, Dale Cowper, Jake Jacoby, Terry Winston and Christine Krellwitz combined to garner the Big East Indoor Women's Coaching Staff of the Year.
The Cardinal women trailed Connecticut, 105.5-104, heading into the final event, which was the 4x400m relays. The quartet of Ahlivia Spencer, Chelsea Brown, Charachesicia Lockhart and Margret Harris turned in a clutch performance, taking third after being clocked at 3:42.47, while the Huskie women finished sixth.
"Certainly, it was a team effort," Mann says. "The throwing events put us in a position to win, and the 4x400m relay team closed it up. It was a great competition, and I'm very proud of this women's team for this achievement. This women's team has set the bar for the future."
The women throwers, similar to yesterday, had success on day two of the event. Khadija Abdullah captured the shot put crown, grabbing her fifth-straight victory in the event and her first career indoor title, with a toss of 16.70m/54-9.50. Last season, she won the shot put at the outdoor conference championships. Collecting additional points in the event, Chinwe Okoro, D'Ana McCarty and Amashi Kendall took second, third and fourth, respectively, in the event.
Saravia Richardson also grabbed Mann's attention with her performance, as she took runner-up in the 60m finals, with a time of 7.33, and seventh in the 200m finals (24.36).
"On the women's side, Ahlivia Spencer comes up and gets some points that we were hoping for," Mann says. "Of course, Saravia Richardson had a fantastic meet in the 60m and the 200m."
Freshman Spencer placed fifth in the 500m preliminaries on Saturday to advance to the finals. She ran a time of 1:13.37, one-hundredth of a second behind the third-place finisher, to take fourth in the event. It was the first time in her career that she competed in the 500m.
Also earning top-five finishes were Michelle Theophille (high jump) and Lockhart (triple jump). Theophille set a career-best, as she cleared 1.75m/5-8.75 to tie for third. Lockhart, who won the long jump title on Saturday, placed fourth, with a leap of 12.21m/40-0.75.
On the men's side, the Cardinals took fourth by a narrow margin, as Connecticut won the men's crown (136.75), followed by Notre Dame (132) and Villanova (92).
"You look at the Big East Conference, and it's a very competitive conference," Mann adds. "When we went in, we said any one of six teams (on the men's side) could win the conference title. We ended up fourth, but only finished five points out of third place. It's very competitive - a little more than four points separate the first two and five separate the second two."
Neil Angermeier had a record-setting performance, as he won the high jump crown after clearing a career-best 2.18m/7-1.75. It is the men's second indoor high jump title. Michael Edwards placed second in the event, clearing 2.14m/7-0.25.
Sirron Warren also put together a notable race, finishing sixth in the 500m, with a time of 1:04.04.
"I think Neil Angermeier's performance in the high jump stood out," Mann says. "Kyle Gann broke the school record on Saturday and did a great job in the pole vault. Sirron Warren comes in the 500m and does an excellent job to get us points."
Weston Banks (shot put) and Howard Shepard, III (800m) each earned fourth-place finishes in their respective events. Banks, the Cardinals' top finisher in the event, had a throw of 17.14m/56-3. Shepard set a career-best, completing the race in 1:51.06.
In the distance events, Matt Hughes took fifth in the 3,000m, with a time of 8:21.53, while Luke Lovelace, who advanced out of Saturday's preliminary, placed 10th in the mile.
Louisville will have a week off from competition before returning to action on March 4 at the Alex Wilson Invitational. The two-day event, which is hosted by Notre Dame, will take place in South Bend, Ind., at the Loftus Sports Center.
For all of the latest information on Louisville cross country and track and field, log on to uoflsports.com, or, for up-to-the-minute updates, follow the team's Twitter account at www.twitter.com/louisvilletrack.