Back-to-back titles for Chico State
St. Scholastica rolls to seventh consecutive conference crown
Oliver Hanf guided Chico State to its second consecutive California Collegiate Athletic Association championship over the weekend.
It is the latest accomplishment for a program that has finished 27th or better in the NCAA Division II national rankings nine consecutive years, and while the title was a thrill to win, the performance by his team did not come as a surprise.
“Our athletes’ performances were outstanding, but I am not surprised,” Hanf said. “I expected them to rise to the occasion, but I am also relieved that it all came together. The feeling (of winning) never gets old. Chico State has such a family atmosphere and the celebration is shared by so many.”
Julianne Conrad helped lead the way as she delivered a memorable performance for the Wildcats, who scored 210 points and held off fourth-ranked UC-San Diego (176 points) for the championship.
Conrad won the high jump with the third best leap in school history, reaching a height of 5-feet-7 ¾ inches, while placing second in the triple jump with a distance of 38-9 ¾. That mark was the fourth best in school history. Conrad, who scored 24 points at the meet, took third in the javelin with a personal-best throw of 118-6.
Kara Lubieniecki took home first in the 1500-meter run, crossing the line in 4:45.49, and teammate Alia Gray was crowned the champion in the 5,000, finishing the race in 17:31.42. Lubieniecki was second with a time of 17:31.49.
Chico State also had the top five finishers in the 3000 steeplechase, with Amy Schnittger taking first in a time of 11:05.02.
The Wildcats not only won a title, but the experience they gained from competing against a high level of competition should benefit them going forward.
“The experience prepares our athletes mentally,” Hanf said. “The state of mind is critical in performance and to gain such a valuable experience at the conference meet helps prepare the athletes who will compete at the national championship meet.”
Chico State's men's team captured their eighth consecutive CCAA title as the Wildcats had an athlete finish fourth or better in 14 of the events.
Manny Mejia, who has had a remarkable career for the Wildcats, took first in the 1500 with a time of 4:05.15 while Anthony Costalos was the champion in the 5000 with a time of 14:57.39.
Chico State, the 17th-ranked team in the country, had the top four finishers in the decathlon as well, with Taylor Fulfer winning it with 6,590 points.
Daniel Parker did not win an event but was named the league’s freshman of the year. He took fourth in the 800 with a time of 1:55.03 and placed third in the 1500 in a time of 4:05.81.
Need To Know
• No one had any luck slowing down the St. Scholastica on Saturday afternoon at the Upper Midwest Athletic Conference meet in Minnesota.
The Saints won 14 of the 20 events and scored 313 points as they rolled to their seventh consecutive championship. Seven meet records fell along the way, including the triple jump mark. Rachel Miller, the UMAC Field Athlete of the Year, set a record with a distance of 33-feet-8 ¾ inches.
Becky Huberty set a meet record in the shot put with a toss of 42-10 ¼ while Mariah Berq established a new mark in the long jump with a jump of 16-10.
Katie Walrath unleashed a throw of 127-10 in the discus en route to setting a new meet record and Nikki Hughes clocked in with a time of 2:20.59 to set a new record in the 800-meter run.
The 400 and 3200 relay teams also set new meet records, posting times of 50.9 and 10:15.09, respectively.
• The streak of Lone Star Conference championships continues for Abilene Christian. The Wildcats won their 18th consecutive title on Sunday at Memorial Stadium in Stephenville as four athletes won two events apiece to pave the way.
Desmond Jackson rolled to wins in the 100 (10.10) and 200 (20.58) while Amos Sang posted victories in the 800 (1:56.56) and 1500 (3:58.69) for top-ranked ACU.
Nick Jones entered the meet as the top discus thrower in the nation and lived up to his billing by winning the event with a throw of 189-9. He also won the shot put, coming through with a toss of 57-5 ½.
Ramon Sparks was the other double winner for the Wilcats. Sparks earned the win in the long jump with a distance of 24-7 ½ and came home with the title in the triple jump, hitting a mark of 50-8 ¾ as the Wildcats completed a sweep of the indoor and outdoor national championships this season.
•Billy Visto helped Minnesota-Morris repeat as Upper Midwest Athletic Conference champions on Saturday with a stellar performance in the triple jump. Visto came through with a leap of 46-7 ¼, a new school record, as he became the first Cougar to ever hit 46 feet in the event. His jump was an NCAA provisional qualifying mark as well. Visto’s performance came on a day when the Cougars won 10 of the 20 event.
•Angeline McNeal was named the top athlete of the year in the Great Lakes Valley Conference after helping Indianapolis win the title at Bailey-Allgood Stadium in Missouri. McNeal, indoor athlete of the year as well, clocked in with a time of 11.81 in the 100 and crossed the line in the 200 with a time of 24.51, which was a provisional qualifying mark. The Greyhounds won the meet with 196.33 points. Robert Gardner, the top male athlete in the GLVC, helped Indy to the men’s championship, winning the 200 (21.47) and 400 (47.16).
• Wisconsin-La Crosse won the Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference championship by the slimmest of margins Saturday, edging Wisconsin-Oshkosh 175-174. It is the tightest margin of victory at the meet since 1973. Andy Novak helped make the title possible, winning the shot put for the second straight year.
• North Central’s women’s track team won its first College Conference of Illinois and Wisconsin since 2007 on Saturday and became the first program in league history to win three championships (cross country, indoor and outdoor track) in the same academic year.
• Brianna Tolliver helped lead the way for the 19th-ranked Cardinals, winning the javelin with a throw of 130-7. North Central’s men’s team avenged a two-point loss to Augustana a year ago by winning the CCIW championship for the 33rd time in program history. Joe Michals became the first Cardinal to win the 400 hurdles (54.50) since 2004.
• Lee Berube won the 5000 in 14:39.49 and finished second in the 1500 with a provisional qualifying time of 3:52.37 as he helped Geneseo won its third consecutive State University of New York Athletic Conference championship.
• Cortland’s Kristen Seriksted was one of four athletes to win two events as the Red Dragons won their first SUNYAC title since 2007. Seriksted was the champion in the high jump (5-5) and javelin (115-11).
• Judith Riley made her presence felt at the Mid-America Athletic Association meet on Sunday at Welch Stadium, winning the 100 (11.25), 200 (23.06) and 100 hurdles (13.66) to lift Lincoln to the championship. The freshman sensation from Jamaica broke the meet record in the hurdles and tied the meet record in the 200.
• Samantha Gries dominated three distance events and helped Concordia extend its streak of Northern Athletics Conference titles to three at the Lisle-Benedictine Sports Complex. Gries won the 3000 steeplechase (11:49.28), 5000 (18:08.70) and 10000 (37:58.54) to pace the Falcons and earn female track athlete of the meet honors.
• Wabash set a new record for points scored in a meet, racking up 311.5 -- the old mark was 237 --- as the Little Giants won their first North Coast Athletic Conference title since joining the league in 1999. Wabash had 17 top three finishes, including a stellar effort by Kevin McCarthy. He won the 3000 steeplechase in 8:58.66 and became only the second D-III athlete this season to break nine minutes in the event.
• Southern Connecticut State won its 18th consecutive Northeast-10 men’s championship over the weekend behind the performance of Diwani Augustine. The MVP of the meet was first in the triple jump (47-7 ¾), third in the long jump (23-9) and fifth in the 100 (11.22).