TULSA, Okla. – Ten event champions were crowned, another meet record bit the dust and plenty of student-athletes qualified for their respective finals races tomorrow in another action-packed day at the Summit League Outdoor Track & Field Championships Friday.
After nine events scored, it is North Dakota State leading the way on the women's side with 139 points. Within striking distance of the Bison are the Coyotes of South Dakota with 118 points, followed by South Dakota State in third with 44 points. Oral Roberts (22), Western Illinois (18) and Omaha (10) head into tomorrow's final day placed fourth through sixth, respectively.
On the men's side, the Bison also remain in first place through eight events with 133 points. South Dakota sits in second with 83.5 points, with the Jackrabbits close on their heels (79.5). Oral Roberts (10) and WIU (5) finished fourth and fifth today.
The final field event of the day provided some of the biggest fireworks with South Dakota's Ben Hammer crushing the old meet record by over six feet with his 196' 6" (59.89m) bomb in the men's discus. Hammer also set the new USD school record in the discus with that chuck.
North Dakota State's Payton Otterdahl also surpassed the old outdoor championship record mark with a 192' 8" (58.73m) toss of his own—good enough for a runner-up finish. Jackson Coker of USD scored six points for the 'Yotes with a third-place finish (178' 4," 54.35m).
Coming into the second day of heptathlon action, South Dakota State's Vanessa Lane held a 17-point advantage that was later cut to 14 points following the long jump. The senior from Pequot Lakes, Minn., however, created 58 points of separation with one event remaining and eventually won the 2018 league title by 139 points with a season-best score of 5,146. Lane solidified her third-career All-Summit performance in the heptathlon with a first-place finish in the 800m run (2:21.27).
The Bison claimed the other two spots on the heptathlon podium, with Jaelin Beachy earning a runner-up finish with a career-best 5,007 points—466 points better than her previous high—and Kennedi Sand logging a personal-best 4,989 points for third—surpassing her old PB by 337 points. In total, the NDSU heptathletes added 20 team points in the event category.
It was a highly-contested battle in the men's decathlon as Bison teammates Matt Neururer and Ryan Enerson continued to trade spots atop the leaderboard during the second day of multi action. Eventually, it was Neururer and his victory in the final event—the 1500m run—that secured the league title and a career-best 7,152 points. Neururer's victory marks the 10th-straight season an NDSU decathlete won the Summit League championship.
Placing second on the podium was Enerson with a personal-best 7,107 points, followed by Evan Hieber of South Dakota State in third place with a program-best 6,844 points. Neururer and Enerson earned All-Summit honors in the decathlon for the second season in-a-row, while Hieber nabbed his first-career All-Summit accolade in the decathlon. In fact, Hieber recorded personal-best marks/times in nine of the 10 events, besting the old school record by 60 points.
WOMEN'S HIGH JUMP
History was made Friday afternoon in the women's high jump pit when Omaha's Stephanie Ahrens cleared the bar at a meet-best height of 5' 9.75" (1.77m). With that mark, Ahrens became the first student-athlete in Summit League history to three-peat in the high jump at outdoor league championships and only the second ever to win the outdoor event three times in a career. Personally, it was Ahrens fourth league gold in the high jump, as the senior from Lincoln, Neb., has also garnered a win at indoor championships.
North Dakota State's Daejha Moss logged a season-best mark at 5' 7.75" (1.72m) for the silver in the high jump, and a pair of Coyotes—Britny Kerr (5' 7.75," 1.72m) and Shanice Cannigan (5' 5.75," 1.67m)—earned third and fourth. Kerr hit a personal best by over an inch, and it was the second-straight season Kerr and Cannigan combined for 11 team points in the category.
MEN'S LONG JUMP
South Dakota State's Bryant Courter also successfully defended one of his 2017 outdoor league titles Friday, with his coming in the men's long jump. Courter—last year's Newcomer of the Meet and Co-Field Championship MVP—soared for a meet-best, wind-aided mark of 26' 1.50" (7.96m). He becomes the first back-to-back long jump champ at this meet since fellow Jackrabbit Jared Vlastuin accomplished the feat three years in-a-row (2010-12).
WOMEN'S DISCUS & 3000m STEEPLE
Chase Cayo won the men's 10,000-meter run yesterday, and two more teammates joined him as event champions for SDSU. First, it was Kasie Vollmer in the discus, muscling a 169' 9" (51.75m) toss and becoming the first Jackrabbit since Brooke Garner in 2013 to win the league's outdoor discus title.
Joining Vollmer in the winner's circle was distance teammate Rachel King, who hustled for a 10:20.41 time in the women's steeplechase—marking the first victory at outdoor league championships for the junior from St. Michael, Minn.
WOMEN'S LONG JUMP
Three-time Summit League Outdoor Athlete of the Week this season Mercy Abire locked up Oral Roberts' first individual title of the meet with a 21' 4" (6.50m) leap in the women's long jump. With her first-place showing, Abire became the first Golden Eagle to win the outdoor league title in the women's long jump since 2008.
MEN'S HIGH JUMP
South Dakota's Zack Anderson repeated as the men's champ in the high jump, winning the event at a height of 7' 0.5" (2.15m). Anderson's victory marked the fourth-straight season a 'Yote took home gold in the high jump at outdoor championships.
MEN'S 3000m STEEPLE
The final event on the track was the men's 3000m steeple, where NDSU was able to pad its lead a bit thanks to a 1-2 finish from Brant Gilbertson (9:17.66) and Camron Roehl (9:18.51). Gilbertson was only the second Bison ever to win gold in the steeple at this meet since NDSU joined the league back in 2007-08.
ON THE TRACK
Notable qualifying performances on the track this afternoon included USD's Jay Cooper. The reigning two-time champ in the men's 400mH qualified for tomorrow's finals with the top preliminary time at 54.93. Cooper will also run in the men's 100mH after a second-place finish in the prelims (14.33).
Cooper's teammate Gawain Williams aims for his fourth-career outdoor league title in the men's 100m finals—a feat that Williams will be the first to accomplish in league history should he win tomorrow's race.
A plethora of ORU sprinters qualified for multiple finals races tomorrow, including: Aniekeme Etim (100m, 200m), Israel Nelson (100mH, 400mH) and Emmanuel Mwewa (200m, 400m) to name a few.
Western Illinois' Josh Kirby also qualified for two finals races tomorrow (100mH, 400mH).
Alexis Woods of North Dakota State will get a chance to defend her 400m crown following a first-place qualifying time of 55.48 today.
League championship action will conclude on Saturday from the ONEOK Sports Complex. The meet picks up again in the field with the women's shot put and triple jump events at 11 a.m., while track events get underway at 12:20 p.m. with the 4x100m relays.
All times CT.
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