Mount Olive sweeps conference titles
BANNER ELK, N.C. -- Mount Olive made it a clean sweep Saturday as the Trojans captured both the men's and women's titles at the 2011 Conference Carolinas Track and Field Championships. Both the men's and women's track and field conference titles were the first for Mount Olive.
Matt van Lierop was named 2011 Conference Carolinas Men's Track and Field Coach of the Year and Conference Carolinas Women's Track and Field Coach of the Year. He becomes the first head coach in MOC history to win conference coach of the year honors in two sports in the same year.
Dalton Souza was named 2011 Conference Carolinas Men's Track Athlete of the Year and Freshman of the Year. Joey Murphy was named 2011 Conference Carolinas Men's Field Athlete of the Year.
Alaytra Carswell was named 2011 Conference Carolinas Women's Track Athlete of the Year and Freshman of the Year.
Track and Field becomes the third sport in which Mount Olive won both the men's and women's championships in the same year. Mount Olive won the men's and women's soccer conference championship in 2004 and won the men's and women's basketball conference championships in 2008.
The Mount Olive men’s squad collected 212 points to easily out-distance second-place Limestone, which tallied 137 points to edge third-place Lees-McRae by six points. Belmont Abbey was fourth with 69 points, followed by Queens with 42 points and Barton with 20.
The Trojans had four event champions – Souza in the 3,000-meter steeplechase (9:50.95), Murphy in the hammer throw (37.52 meters), Ryan Henderson in the 800 meters (2:00.41), and Caleb Henderson in the high jump (1.98 meters). As first-place finishers, those athletes were named All-Conference First Team.
Mount Olive recorded nine individual runner-up finishes – for which they were designated All-Conference Second Team – and a second-place showing by the 4x100-meter relay team. They included Souza in the 5,000 meters (16:14.42) and Murphy in both the discus (34.78 meters) and the shot put (12.62 meters). Paul Hoffman also claimed a pair of runner-up finishes, one in the 10,000 meters (33:18.84) and the other in the steeplechase (9:55.25). The others finishing second in an event were: Decardo Cole, 200 meters (22.18); David Wilson, 400-meter hurdles (58.57); Alejandro Swinson, hammer throw (36.83 meters); and Cort McCombs, javelin (44.25 meters).
Hoffman and Murphy earned all-conference honors for the second straight season. Hoffman won the steeplechase last year, and Murphy placed second in the hammer throw.
They were also two of seven Trojans to place third in events this weekend. Cole did so twice (100 meters and high jump). Caleb Henderson added a third-place showing in the triple jump to his win in the high jump. Others finishing third were: Jamar Davis (800 meters), James “Bear” Maloney (1,500 meters) and Ryan Campbell (shot put).
Mount Olive’s women scored 200 points compared to second-place Limestone’s 151. Lees-McRae was third with 104, followed by Queens with 68, Belmont Abbey with 54 and Barton with 22.
Carswell won the 100 meters in a time of 12.45 seconds and the 400 meters in a time of 58.12 seconds. She missed completing the sprint trifecta by the closest possible margin, coming in second in the 200 meters by one one-thousandth of a second. She rounded out her stellar showing with a third-place showing in the long jump (5.13 meters).
Chelsea Long and Kierra Butler were both two-time all-conference selections. Long won the 10,000 meters with a time of 40:24.80, and finished second in the 5,000 meters with a time of 20:29.90. Butler won the 400-meter hurdles with a time of 1:04.83, and placed second in the triple jump with an effort of 10.52 meters. The jump was just one one-hundredth of a meter short of first place.
Long’s runner-up finish in the 5,000 was part of an extremely close 1-2-3 sweep by the Trojans. Jessica McKinnis won the event with a time of 20:29.81 (.09 ahead of Long) and Courtney Siefert placed third with a time of 29:29.93 (.03 behind Long).
For the second year in a row, Denise Harrison became an all-conference honoree. Last year, she finished on the Second Team after a runner-up finish in the shot put. This year, she was a First Team member after winning the event with a toss of 10.99 meters.
Mount Olive brought home two other first-place finishes in the meet. Amber Thompson won the steeplechase in a time of 12:26.39, and the 4x400-meter relay squad claimed first with a time of 4:03.65.
The 4x100-meter relay team placed second with a time of 49.05. Other second-place finishes included Chelyn McCain in the 100-meter hurdles (15.57) and Shea Garner in the hammer throw (36.17 meters).
McCain also had a third-place finish in the 400-meter hurdles (1:08.14). So did Terri Bluebird, who completed the steeplechase in a time of 13:27.70.
The Trojans return to action April 28-30 at the Penn Relays in Philadelphia.