Sam Houston State leads after day one in Birmingham

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BIRMINGHAM, ALABAMA -- Even with an afternoon power outage delaying action for the better part of an hour, the Southland Conference Indoor Track & Field Championships lit up the Birmingham CrossPlex on Wednesday. After day one action was all said and done Sam Houston State men and women both lead the team standings.

The men’s heptathlon and women’s pentathlon opened competition, with three-time defending conference champion Tyler Adams beginning in strong fashion for Sam Houston State. The senior took commanding wins in the 60m dash and long jump to solidify a comfortable lead from the start with 1,743 points. Hunter Key of Stephen F. Austin drew closer with a win in the shot put, but Adams would still hold a 183-point buffer heading into the final four events.

On the women’s side, Grace McKenzie of McNeese led after the 60m hurdles, high jump and shot put, heading the pack with 2,453 points after the first three events were completed. With a third-place finish in the pentathlon long jump, McKenzie’s lead was narrowed to 131 ahead of Sam Houston State’s Courtney Lord with only the 800m to go. Despite a second-place finish behind Migle Muraskaite of Lamar, McKenzie held the total points lead to take the pentathlon gold with 4,030 points.

In the women’s 5,000m, it was Rabea Schöneborn of Texas A&M-Corpus Christi who came out on top. After moving out to an early lead, she jostled for the 1-2 position with Michaela Hackett of Abilene Christian. Schöneborn would move out to a considerable lead just over the midway point of the race and while Hackett made her push to close the gap, it was the Islander’s show until the finish. Schöneborn took gold with a meet-record shattering time of 16:26.46, finishing nearly 100 meters ahead of second place. Alexandria Hackett took silver with 16:42.98 while Michaela earned bronze in 16:45.60.

Next came a strong-fielded men’s 5,000m race. As the pack began to separate after the opening laps, defending meet champion Nathan Jones of McNeese headed a tight leading pack ahead of 2017 conference cross country champion Jamie Crowe of Lamar and Garett Cortez of UIW. With five laps to go, Crowe began to make his move, edging out in front but followed closely by Jones, both of whom separated from third place and the rest of the field. As the bell lap sounded, Crowe turned on the jets for a strong sprint, breaking away for a convincing gold medal finish in a time of 14:37.66. Jones clocked in at 14:41.46. Cortez finished third with a time of 14:51.46.

Yarixza Rivera of Sam Houston State avenged last season’s silver medal weight throw finish, taking gold this year with a distance of 62-11.50 (19.19m), ahead of 2017 champion Lonnie Smith from Abilene Christian and McNeese’s Aanna Arvie.

Tyler Adams continued his impressive performances on the day with a gold medal in the men’s long jump, reaching a distance of 24-02.25 (7.37m). Isaiah Pittman of Stephen F. Austin took silver (24-00.25/7.32m) while New Orleans’ Michael Strong finished third (23-08.75/7.23m). The senior Bearkat was not done yet, as he earned a second gold medal on the day in the high jump, clearing a height of

The distance medley relay finals closed out day one, with Sam Houston State taking first place with a final time of 11:59.67, followed by Stephen F. Austin (12:01.49) and UIW (12:09.62).

On the men’s side, it was Lamar who took gold (10:00.84), with Stephen F. Austin earning silver (10:11.32) and Central Arkansas just edging Houston Baptist for bronze (10:11.73).

Day two gets underway tomorrow with the final three men’s heptathlon events starting at 8:30 a.m., field event finals beginning at 10 a.m. and running event finals from noon until 4:05 p.m. Click here for a full schedule of events.

The Southland Indoor Track & Field Championships will be streamed on the Southland Digital Network. Visit southland.org/live or download Southland Conference app, available for iPhone, Android, Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV and Roku.