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    SFA Dominates SLC Indoor Championships
    Junior Julian Acuna
    Junior Julian Acuna

    Feb. 21, 2005

    NACOGDOCHES - After the dust settled at the 2005 Southland Conference Indoor Championships, the only colors that were still standing was the purple and white of Stephen F. Austin. The Ladyjacks scored 112.50 points to defeat Sam Houston State to win their first-ever Southland Conference Indoor title, and their second overall championship in the last three seasons. The Lumberjacks posted 111.50 points to outpace Texas-San Antonio for their first track and field crown in school history. It was an impressive team effort as both teams posted some pretty staggering numbers in the two days of competition. The Ladyjacks recorded three individual champions, had 10 All-SLC honorees and set school records in the 60-meter hurdles, distance medley relay, 5,000 meters, pentathlon and the weight throw. Junior Crystal Chang's school-record score of 3,715 points was also an NCAA provisional qualifying mark. The Lumberjacks had five individual championship finishes, 10 all-conference performances and set a school record in the 5,000 meters.

    "On the women's side we had no clue that we had won until we were in the mile relay, which is the final event," said SFA head track and field coach Phil Olson. "We went into the event leading by five points needing to beat Texas State. We got ahead them and then Texas State dropped the baton. When we crossed the finish line coach (Lou) Snelling, who was keeping score for us, raised his arms and we knew at that point that we had wrapped up the title. On the men's side we had an eight-point lead heading into the 3,000 meters and racked up lot of points in that race, so we knew we had won it after that. We felt confident about the men heading into the meet and we saw ourselves among the top three or four on the women's side, so when we won the women's team title it was really something special."

    Senior Ana Rodriguez recorded two individual titles at the meet. She recorded a school-record time of 17:24.14 in the 5,000 meters to outpace teammate Ashley Monteau who finished second overall with the second-fastest time in school history (17:24.59). Rodriguez followed up her 5,000-meter title by winning the 3,000 meters with a time of 10:01.75. The Ladyjacks other individual title came Chang in the pentathlon.

    Junior Julian Acuna paced the Lumberjacks' attack finishing the meet as the conference's high-point scorer. Acuna recorded individual titles in the 3,000 meters (8:31.50) and the 5,000 meters when he crossed the finish line with a school-record time of 14:47.39. The men's distance medley relay team added to the SFA tally when it crossed the line first with a time of 10:16.07. Senior DeVaughn Rettig concluded his senior season with an individual title in the triple jump (48-5.50), while teammate Reggie Lazenby took care of business in the long jump winning the event with a mark of 24-00.25.

    Junior Stevina Wyatt earned all-conference honors in the 400-meter dash when she crossed the finish line third overall with a time of 56.36. Sophomore Leah Matthews recorded a school-record time of 8.59 in the preliminaries of the 60-meter hurdles. Matthews returned to the track to record the school's second fastest time in the event (8.61) as she finished third overall to earn all-league honors. Freshman Meghan Denman led an assault on the women's high jump, as she was one of five Ladyjacks to score in the event. Denman was the SLC runner-up in the event clearing height of 5-8.50. Freshman Kristina Windham also recorded an SLC runner-up finish in the pole vault when she cleared a height of 11-11.75. Sophomore Markeisha Edwards recorded all-conference honors in the shot put and the weight throw. Edwards was the SLC runner-up in the weight throw with her school-record toss of 55-7.50. She followed that up with a third-place finish in the shot put (46-2.50).

    Lazenby wasn't finished bringing in the honors. He also earned All-SLC honors in the 60-meter hurdles when he finished third overall with a time of 8.03. Junior Kenneth McKinley earned all-conference honors in the shot put with his toss of 55-4.75 to finish third overall.

    The Ladyjacks also had a host of other athletes who scored points at the meet. Senior Jocelyn Stevens finished seventh in the 60-meter hurdles (8.90) and tied for fourth in the high jump along with classmate Teresa Murray (5-8.50). The women's distance medley relay team set a new school record when they recorded a time of 12:24.28, just missing All-SLC honors with their fourth-place finish. Freshman Audrey Azu and Chang also scored points for SFA in the high jump. Azu finished sixth in the event (5-6.50) while Chang finished eighth overall clearing a height of 5-6.50. Freshman Emylee Hartwig finished seventh in the pole vault when she cleared a height of 10-11.75. Senior Lindsey Bryson finished fifth in the pentathlon with her score of 3,363 points.

    The Lumberjacks also received big contributions from junior Chance Edwards who was fifth in the mile run (4:17.56) and freshman Robert Smith who finished eighth (4:28.31) overall. Junior Marc Farris finished fifth in the 3,000-meter run with a time of 8:44.36, to place just ahead of teammate Eric Brill (8:45.56). Farris just missed all-conference honors in the 5,000 meters, finishing fourth (15:08.05) overall. Senior Matt Albertson added a solid performance in the 5,000 meters with his sixth-place finish (15:13.84). Newcomers Cale Trail and Carlious Owens had strong performances in their first SLC meet finishing tied for fourth in the high jump with marks of 6-4.75. Junior Mike Ludlow added a fifth-place finish in the pole vault when cleared a height of 15-3.00. Rettig posted his second top-five finish of the championships when he finished fifth in the long jump (23-3.25). Sophomore James Williams was sixth in the shot put (52-2.00), while classmate Darwin Johnson just missed all-conference honors in the weight throw with his toss of 52-8.00. Junior Bo Simpson also just missed all-conference honors in the heptathlon by finishing fourth overall with a score of 4,936 points, while freshman Ray Shadowens finished eighth overall in his first conference competition of his career.

    "To win titles, you have to stay free from injuries," said Olson. "We've had some injuries but we've been able to fight through that. Heading into the fall, we knew that we had a pretty good chance. We knew we had one of the better men's teams in the league and we also felt that our women would be in their among the top three or four. The big key was our freshmen class and how they were going to step up in their first conference competition. The freshmen for both the men and women did a great job."

    The Lumberjacks have now won the Southland Conference title in cross country and indoor track and field and will be looking to complete the triple crown of track and field at the 2005 SLC Outdoor Championships at Huntsville, Texas, in May. If the `Jacks can complete the sweep it would be the first time in school history.