Houston men win AAC championship on final relay; SMU women finish first
TAMPA, Fla. -- It was a championship Sunday for the SMU women and the Houston men, as the squads claimed the 2014 American Athletic Conference outdoor track and field championship. The Mustangs led after two days and held off a late charge from UCF to pace the field. On the men's side, it came down to the final relay, where a Houston victory locked up the championship. The UCF women and Memphis men claimed runner-up honors.
The day started with the women's 4x100-meter relay, won by UCF, who finished in 44.87 to score the first points of the day.
Houston claimed the men's 4x100-meter relay, running a stadium record 39.61. The quartet of Lashon Collins, Errol Nolan, James Arnett and Cameron Burrell posted the fastest time in The American this season.
UConn's Brigitte Mania won the women's 1,500-meter race, crossing the line in 4:25.45. A fellow Husky won the men's 1,500 meter, as freshman Michael O'Donnell took the title in 3:53.66. O'Donnell previously won individual gold at the conference indoor meet in the mile, and finished ahead of teammate Nicholas Bertoline, who came in second.
Athletes from Houston swept the hurdles events. The women's 100-meter hurdles title was claimed by Houston's Sade Mariah Greenidge, finishing in 13.48. She now owns the top two times in the conference this season, and has won the hurdles event at the conference meet in both the indoor and outdoor season. The men's 110-meter hurdles were won by Cougar Isaac Williams in 13.94 seconds.
UCF's Afia Charles ran a conference-best 52.77 to win the women's 400-meter dash. The men's 400-meter dash was won by Houston's Errol Nolan with a time of 46.00. Nolan won his second gold medal of the day, recorded the fastest time in the conference, besting his own mark by 0.55 seconds, and set another stadium record.
The women's 100-meter dash was claimed by SMU's Stephanie Kalu. A junior who won the 60 meter dash at the indoor championships, Kalu won the 100 meters in 11.53 seconds.
The men's 100-meter dash was a Houston show, with Cougar sprinters placing1-2. Sophomore Leshon Collins won with a time of 10.57, while freshman Cameron Burrell was second in 10.76.
The women's 80- meter run was the second gold of the day for UConn's Brigitte Mania. She crossed the line in 2:06.70, the fastest time in the conference this season, as she edged UCF's Erica Winston (2:06.86).
A spectacular late charge gave Memphis the top two spots in the men's 800-meter run. It was freshman LaForrest Church who burst down the straightaway to cross the line first in 1:51.53, while teammate Fabian Fiege was second in 1:51.84.
A very close race gave UCF a title in the women's 400-meter hurdles. Sandy Jean-Claude finished in 57.87, beating Houston's Sade Mariah Greenidge (57.90) by a slim margin.
Calvin Arsenault from Louisville won the men's 400-meter hurdles, taking first with a time of 52.02. Arsenault has the two fastest times in the conference this year.
The women's 200-meter dash was won by J'Nea Bellamy of UCF. She ran a 23.38 to take first. The men's 200-meter dash went 1-2-3 for Houston. Errol Nolan crossed the line first in 20.85 seconds, ahead of Cougar teammate Leshon Collins (21.11) and Cameron Burrell (21.16).
Memphis went 1-2 in the pole vault. Junior Pauls Pujats took first with a jump of 5.48 meters, ahead of teammate Austin Crenshaw (5.38 meters).
UConn's Eric Masington won the men's discus throw, tossing a distance of 57.80 meters to pace the field. UConn also won the women's triple jump, as Odrine Belot scored a mark of 12.65 meters to take first.
Two jumping events went to host USF, the first individual victories for the Bulls. Men's triple jump went to sophomore Matthew O'Neal, who took the title with a mark of 16.04 meters. The Bulls also claimed a second place finish from Shane Lewis. In the women's high jump, Courtney Anderson won in a jump off with a mark of 1.73 meters.
The women's discus throw was won by SMU's Rayann Chin, who reached 51.84 meters in the finals.
The championship would conclude with a pair of relays.
In the women's 4x400-meter relay, Afia Charles boosted UCF with a huge anchor leg, closing the gap down the stretch and beating UConn's Nyanka Joseph to the finish line. The Knights took first place with a time of 3:32.59, as the Huskies were just behind in 3:32.83.
The men's 4x400-meter relay locked up the championship for Houston. The Cougar relay team of Xavier Boyd, Dominique Charles, Jermaine Fyffe, and Errol Nolan sprinted to a finish of 3:08.94, taking ten team points to clinch the victory.
Women's Team Scores
1. SMU 153.20
2. UCF 138.60
3. UConn 111.60
4. Houston 111.20
5. Louisville 77.80
6. Rutgers 62
7. USF 49.20
8. Memphis 47
9. Cincinnati 45.40
10. Temple 23
Men's Team Scores
1. Houston 156.50
2. Memphis 147
3. UConn 144
4. Louisville 113
5. USF 82
6. Rutgers 73.50
7. Cincinnati 72
8. Temple 26