|Double satisfaction with Charlotte 49ers track sweep, NCAA qualifiers|
|First simultaneous C-USA men's women's titles|
|Published Sunday, May 19, 2019 1:04 am|
|PHOTO | SAM ROBERTS|
|The Charlotte 49ers clinched the school's first Conference USA track and field double championship with a win in the women's 4x400 meter relay.|
The Charlotte 49ers won the Conference USA men’s outdoor track and field championship for the second straight year, and this time they did it alongside the women’s squad.
It was the first time in Charlotte history that both teams won outdoor titles since joining Conference USA in 2013 while the women earned their first. The men beat preseason favorite Middle Tennessee by 38 points and the women won by 1.5 points over UTEP, the second smallest margin of victory since Houston beat out Tulsa by a point in 2004.
Only one other C-USA school has managed to sweep the outdoor championship – Houston in 2005. Charlotte track and field and cross-country programs garnered five trophies in the 2018-19 seasons.
“I’ve been here at Charlotte over 20 years now and we’ve been fortunate to win numerous conference championships,” 49ers head coach Bob Olesen said. “All of those conference championship teams rose to meet the challenges of their particular era and evolutionary point of the program’s development and each successive team is building on the foundation of their predecessors with the current ones achieving a historic program high in the most competitive conference environment to date.”
Olesen received his 22nd and 23rd recognitions as coach of the year for men’s and women’s teams, but he attributes those honors to the rest of the coaching staff and the athletes more so than himself.
“In track and field, championship meet coach of year awards really should be coaching staff of the year awards as each staff member in our sport has more direct responsibility for the teams’ performances and outcomes than any other I can think of; it’s a team effort for both athletes and staff,” Olesen said.
With what was certainly a team effort, the 49ers stood in anticipation around the track and in the stands at Irwin Belk Track & Field Center for the decisive women’s 4x400 relay. Kiana Lee, Cemere Petty, Maya Singletary and Kristen Williams set new personal, stadium, school and meet records to secure the women’s title.
“These ladies have had a great season and had already broken the school record which just enhanced their confidence,” Olesen said. “There was some big picture strategy at play as well regarding recruitment and redshirting to bring these four sprinters together for this outdoor season to try to make history and so far the plan is working perfectly.”
The 4x400 win secure the championship, but the win wasn’t all in the final points. Mihret Coulter, who had recently been working to get back on the track, placed second in the men’s 3,000 steeplechase with Tom Nobles, the 2018 Conference USA cross country champion, just below him on the podium in third place.
Terrell Adams took home silver in shot put and a gold in discus, while Sasha Dajia placed fourth in shot put and Tyler Hoag fifth. Kyra Atkins raced to first in the 100 hurdles with a time of 13.28 seconds and Isis Welch just behind her at 13.84 seconds.
Anthony Richardson tied for the third fastest time in school history to finish third for a bronze medal in the men’s 100 hurdles. Paul Arredondo secured bronze in the men’s 5,000 and Nobles, who won the event in 2018, finished fourth.
“I’m extremely proud of both teams especially given the events on campus the previous week. We had a few athletes that were acquainted with the victims so while we didn’t have a large segment of the team as directly affected as others in the campus community I think we were all shaken,” said Olesen. “The energy coming from everyone gathered together in the stands to support teammates in the final events is absolutely amazing and forges bonds that aid in future championships and last beyond graduation.”
As they often refer to themselves, the “Charlotte Track Squad” showed resilience and drive as they head for the NCAA championships.
“Competing for a championship on our campus that so recently experienced tragedy would allow for the teams to feel like they could actively do something meaningful to lift not only their own spirits but hopefully those of our campus community,” said Olesen.
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