Williams wins high-point title; LU 2nd

Published 9:38 pm Thursday, February 23, 2017

Lamar sports information

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – High-point scorer Thai Williams stole the show with 28 total points and led the women’s squad of the Lamar track and field program to a runner-up finish Wednesday to wrap up the 2017 Southland Conference Indoor Championships, hosted at the CrossPlex.

Williams was Lamar’s second women’s high-point scorer in the last three seasons, joining Verity Ockenden’s 24 points in 2015, and overall she is the fourth. The women’s team total 97 points and was only behind Sam Houston State’s 127. The Lamar men’s team scored 30 points and took seventh place.

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“I thought [the women] had the right mentality all day long. We executed and had very little adversity,” said head coach Trey Clark. “People just executed and performed. When things go right for you, it just starts to snowball. It gets to a point where the next athlete up is expecting the same kind of result.”

Williams – who took the crown in the women’s long jump Wednesday night – started her triple jump routine, but took a break to go run in the women’s 60-meter dash, in which she set a new personal best and picked up her second gold medal on a 7.47 mark. She and teammate Chanissey Fowler went neck-and-neck to grab the first and second spots on the podium; Fowler tied her career mark of 7.48.

“Thai is a competitor and is always on. In the sixth jump of the long jump she hit the big one, and I think from there the confidence grew for her,” said Clark.

“This league is a sprint league, those schools expect in sprint points. To go in there and go one-two was something we had to do to be a podium team,” he said. “Watching (Williams and Fowler) go out compete was fun to watch. Nerve-wracking, but fun.”

Williams was Lamar’s first 60-meter dash and long jump champion.

After she returned to the triple jump runway, she went on to claim the silver medal on her sixth and final jump of 40 feet, 4 inches.

Overall, the Cardinals won 12 medals and All-Conference selections between both teams. The final count was four golds, five silvers and one bronze medal.

Two women’s distance runners went on to claim medals, Evelyn Chavez and Jannika John. Chavez was crowned with a gold medal in the mile run a personal-best 4:56.83. She sat back for several meters, but when the bell lap sounded she found another gear and ran away with the race. She joined a list of nine winners in the mile to hail from Lamar.

“Evelyn is really good at executing the race plan,” said Clark. “She was in position the entire time and could cover any move the leader did, and truth be told she was in control from the second spot.”

John – who won silver in the 5,000 meters – won silver in the 3,000 as well. She ran her event in 9:55.19 and was followed by Chavez in fifth on a 10:01.24 time. The two combined for 12 points for the Cardinal women in that event, and for the meet Chavez scored 16.5 points and John had 18.5.

On the men’s side, the jump squad made a name for itself again on Thursday afternoon. Tylen Guidry was the silver medalist in the men’s triple jump on a 49-foot, 8¼-inch leap that was his second of the afternoon. He beat his previous personal best by nearly two feet.

Brian O’Bonna won silver in the men’s long jump Wednesday and went on to get bronze in the long jump Thursday. He saved his best for last and scored on a 49-foot, 5½-inch jump, also his career best at Lamar.

“Those guys were jumping. It was good and a lot of fun to see them do that,” said Clark. “The men’s jumpers had a great meet. It was good for them.”

Dominique Taylor scored points in the women’s 60-meter hurdle finals when with an 8.52-second race, which broke a school record she set Wednesday during the preliminaries. Freddie Gasbarri scored four points for the men with a 4:15.84 race in the men’s mile.

“I was very, very proud of Dominique. At the same time, I was disappointed for her because it didn’t turn into a medal,” said Clark. “The school record is a consolation, not the ultimate prize. Her performance was very big for us. It was a team effort from start to finish.”

Alexandra Sokolova scored four points for the Cardinals in the women’s 800 meters, with a 2:12.67 mark. After she 60-meter finish, Fowler added a couple of points to the LU score with a seventh-place finish in the 200 meter, and was just shy of her personal best with a 25.04 race. She set her best in the preliminary on Wednesday.

The women’s 4×400-meter relay team – made up of Nia Davis, Kyara Levi, Taeylor Roquemore and Meagan Menifee — chipped in a couple of points with a seventh place finish, 3:52.14. The group took their heat in a tight finish.

“The women’s 4-by-4 got seventh, but had a seasonal best by 7 seconds,” said Clark. “We needed them to do that. They won their heat and did everything we asked them to do so we could get that second-place finish.”

The Cardinals open their run for a Southland Conference Outdoor championship at the Texas Southern Relays on March 17. Prior to that, for those that qualify, the NCAA Indoor Championships will be hosted on March 10-11 in College Station.