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Men's Track & Field Takes 2012 SoCon Indoor Crown; Women Finish Second

Senior Felisha Garren set a SoCon Indoor Championship record in the 400m and was a member of the record-setting 4x400-meter relay team, Friday.

Feb. 24, 2012

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SoCon Indoor Championship Photo Gallery

BIRMINGHAM, ALA. - The Western Carolina men's track & field team was crowned the 2011-12 Southern Conference Indoor champion Friday, defeating rival Appalachian State by the narrowest of margins, a half of a point. The men scored 155 points, while the Mountaineers had 154.5. Samford was also in the mix as the top three teams were separated by only seven and a half points. On the women's side, the Catamount women's track & field teams earned silver, finishing behind Appalachian State, 157.16 to WCU's 113.

The men's championship came down to the last event of the night, the 4x400-meter relay. Being down by three points, the only way the Catamounts could win the championship was to win the relay. Western Carolina did just that by winning the event in 3:15.08 with The Citadel finishing in second, three seconds behind the Catamounts. The relay team consisted of sophomore Aaron Tribble, junior Brandon Hairston, freshman Demari Boswell and senior Benny Davis. It was the second fastest time of the year for WCU.

"That is the way a conference meet should be," said Head Coach Danny Williamson. "It was close and exciting until the end on both sides. For the men, it came into last event. We had to win the last event and we did. Our guys did a great job of never giving up. We made some mistakes along the way, but we didn't give up. We came up with what we needed to win."

The men's team was able to score a lot of points on the final day of the two-day championship event as the finals of the sprints were held on Friday. The Catamounts began the day in third place. A large portion of the points came from the 60-meter, 200-meter and 400-meter races.

Senior Benny Davis picked up the victory in the 200-meter dash in his final SoCon Indoor Championship of his collegiate career, winning the event in 21.35. The time was a personal best for the Morganton, N.C., native. Freshman Jeffrey Hendricks placed fifth with a time of 22.21. Davis also had a strong showing in the 400-meter dash, racing across the stripe in 47.84, earning silver. That too was a season-best time for Davis.

The top six of the 400-meter dash featured three other Catamounts besides Davis. Placing third was junior Brandon Hairston who finished in 48.51. Sophomore Aaron Tribble placed fourth (48.58) while freshman Demari Boswell placed sixth (49.53).

The 60-meter dash was also a big point-grabber for WCU. Hairston earned another top three finish as the junior earned silver with a season-best time of 6.91. Junior Ron Duncan - who had the fast preliminary time in the event - finished third (6.94) with classmate Willie Bowman placing fifth (6.96).

In the field events, sophomore Bob McNeil had another big day in the jumps. A day after winning the men's long jump, McNeil returned to the top of the podium winning the triple jump with a personal-best jump of 15.08. His mark of 7.25m in the long jump yesterday was also a personal best.

In the weight throw, senior Jamie Van Pelt made the best of his final SoCon Indoor Championship, placing third with a career-best throw of 17.55m. Sophomore Jonathan Newton finished fifth with his throw of 16.23m.

Friday's women's competition did not pale in comparison to the men's accomplishments as Western Carolina set two SoCon Championship records on the track.

In the women's 400-meter dash, senior Felisha Garren broke the previous SoCon record of 54.64 that was set back in 1995 by WCU alum Angela Rowe with her Friday time of 54.61. The time was just off of the Western Carolina record of 54.31. Freshman Genevieve Emrick earned a spot on the SoCon All-Freshman team for her fourth place finish in the event, crossing the stripe in 56.81.

The women's 4x400-meter relay team continued the tradition of strong Catamount relay teams by finding their own spot in the Southern Conference Championship record books. The team of sophomore Shiniqua Pryor, freshman Genevieve Emrick, freshman Lena Elliott and senior Felisha Garren won the event by setting a Championship record time of 3:44.98. That time was also just off the school record (3:44.47) that was set in 2010. Felisha Garren was a member of that record-setting team as well.

In the 200-meter dash, Garren placed third with a time of 24.74. Placing fifth and sixth in the 200 were Raven Parrish (25.09) and Brittany Diggs (25.20).

Janise Robinson finished third in the 60-meter dash finals with a time of 7.74.

In the triple and high jumps, sophomore Raven Parrish placed third (11.52m) and fourth (5.52m).

"On the women's side, it was probably the youngest team that we've brought to this meet since I've been here," continued Williamson. "With so many freshmen and sophomores, we were really excited and proud of how we competed. They did a very good job, and we are proud of both teams."

Individually, freshman Abraham Faison was named the 2012 Freshman of the Year. Faison placed in the top eight in the long jump (fourth), triple jump (eighth) and the 60-meter hurdles (fifth).

Head Coach Danny Williamson was also selected as the Men's Coach of the Year. It is the ninth time that Williamson has received the honor, matching the same number that Williamson has received it for his efforts with the WCU women's team. Both men's and women's teams were ranked third in the latest SoCon Power Rankings that were released right before the indoor meet. Twenty of the 25 members of the women's team who traveled to the championship meet were sophomores and freshmen.

"This made us feel really good because we weren't predicted to win," stated Williamson. "We felt like we were counted out by a lot of people, but our teams didn't listen to any of it. We came out and did what we needed to do to win. The individual award that I received is not just for me. It is for the assistant coaches and all of the members of our team. I wouldn't have gotten it without their great support and effort."

Men's Team Results - Final

1. Western Carolina       155

2. Appalachian State     154.50

3. Samford                   147.50

4. The Citadel                58

5. Davidson                  50

6. Chattanooga             32

7. Furman                     29

8. UNCG                       27

9. Wofford                    9


Women's Team Results - Final

1. Appalachian State                 157.16 

2. Western Carolina                   113

3. Georgia Southern                  92

4. Samford                               85

5. Elon                                      72.33

6. College of Charleston                        59

7. UNCG                                   36

8. Furman                                 17

9. Chattanooga                         12

10. Wofford                              9.50

11. The Citadel                          9

12. Davidson                            1


Men's Individual Awards


Freshman of the Year

Abraham Faison--Western Carolina


Coach of the Year

Danny Williamson--Western Carolina


Men's All-Freshman Team - Day 2



Kyle Bernier--Western Carolina


Triple Jump

Abraham Faison--Western Carolina


60m Hurdles

Abraham Faison--Western Carolina

Marquis Bailey--Western Carolina


200m Dash

Jeffery Hendricks--Western Carolina

Demari Boswell--Western Carolina


400m Dash

Demari Boswell--Western Carolina


5000m Run

Travis Alfaro--Western Carolina


Women's All-Freshman Team - Day 2


Pole Vault

Cara June Elyea--Western Carolina


Triple Jump

Danielle Hawkins--Western Carolina


Weight Throw

Alisha Bradshaw--Western Carolina


60m Hurdles

Xaviera Bass--Western Carolina


400m Dash

Genevieve Emrick--Western Carolina


800m Run

Lena Elliot--Western Carolina