BIRMINGHAM, Ala. - The Western Carolina University men's and women's track & field teams are both in good positions at the end of day one at the 2016 Southern Conference Indoor Track & Field Championships in Birmingham, Ala. Both squads are looking to repeat as champions after sweeping the 2014 and 2015 titles. The men sit in first after day one with a 20 point advantage over second place Samford while the women trail first place Samford by 19 points.
The women qualified 11 competitors for Saturday finals in the six preliminary events on Friday while first place Samford has 18 competitors in those finals. On the men's side WCU qualified 10 competitors in the preliminaries while second place Samford has eight.
Gaines was the first champion crowned at the meet as she won the pentathlon with a score of 3,492 points. Freshman Nidonna Nicholson (3,078) and freshman Marisa Scott (3,014) finished seventh and eighth, respectively, to gain valuable team points. Overall WCU gained 13 points towards the championship in the pentathlon.
The men's best event cam in the high jump as WCU scored 27 points as the Catamounts swept the podium as well as taking sixth in the event. Adams won with a season best leap of 2.09m (6-10.25) to gain 10 points for the team. Brown came in second to go along with his victory in the long jump as he cleared 2.06m (6-09.00). Freshman Khali Jackson was the final podium participant as he took third after clearing 2.06m as well but doing it in more attempts then Brown. The final scorer was senior Christian Carswell who claimed sixth with a height of 1.95m (6-04.75).
Cook and freshman Simone Williams combined to pick up 14 points in the women's shot put. Cook won the event with a toss of 14.65m (48-00.75) while Williams came in fifth after stopping the tape at 11.76m (38-07.00).
The men scored 16 points in the long jump as Brown scored 10 after winning the event with a distance of 7.28m (23-10.75). Carswell took sixth after stopping the tape at 6.83m (22-05.00) while senior David Johnson touched down at 6.72m (22-00.75) to earn seventh. Adams was the final WCU scorer as he finished eighth with a leap of 6.71m (22-00.25).
Senior Korie Bennett led a trio of Catamounts in the women's pole vault who earned 15 points towards the team score. Bennett, sophomore Meghan Breden and junior Sage Proffitt all cleared a season best 3.65m (11-11.75) but Bennett earned third due to number of attempts and Breden took fourth followed by Proffitt in fifth.
Senior Jared Johnson and junior Scott Peretin picked up nine points in the men's shot put. Johnson turned in a season best toss of 16.09m (52-09.50) to take third while Peretin finished sixth with a toss of 15.00m (49-02.50).
Juniors Tiffani Lewis and Chenell Bryan combined to pick up 13 points in the women's long jump. Lewis earned eight as she placed second with a leap of 5.71m (18-09.00) while Bryan took home five points with a fourth place finish after touching down at 5.46m (17-11.00).
Freshman Liam Brooks turned in a season best time of 8:30.85 in the men's 3,000nm to earn three points for the Catamounts.
A trio of Catamounts earned eight points in the women's high jump as they all cleared 1.56m (5-01.25). Lewis led the way as she tied for fourth while freshman Ashley Parker tied for sixth. The final scorer was Gaines who finished eighth.
The men's final three points came in the distance medley relay as WCU finished sixth overall. Senior Jamie Bigby, freshman Justin Kenard, freshman Caleb Albrecht and junior JC Cornett teamed up to turn in a time of 10:23.47.
Sophomore Laney Browder picked up a point as she finished eighth in the women's 3,000m as he finished eighth with a time of 10:44.71.
The women's final three points came in the distance medley relay as senior Kaitlyn Shetler, freshman Sally Woerner, freshman Christina Nikolaou and sophomore Katarina Ruehl stopped the clock in 12:33.28.
The championships will conclude tomorrow night. Fans can follow all the action on the SoCon Digital Network or through live stats on CatamountSports.com.