CULLOWHEE, N.C. - The Western Carolina men's and women's track & field teams opened up competition at the 2016 Southern Conference Outdoor Track & Field Championships Thursday at the Catamount Athletic Complex. WCU picked up three individual championships including two on the women's side and one on the men's. The women lead after day one with 72.5 points. Samford sits in second with 59.5 while ETSU is in third with 33. The men are in a tight battle on the men's side as fifth through first are separated by just 22 points. Samford leads the way with 52 points while WCU sits in second with 51. ETSU is third with 40 and Furman is fifth with 30.
Both WCU and Samford qualified 19 competitors for Friday finals during seven preliminary events on Thursday while WCU leads the way on the men's side with 16 qualifiers compared to VMI's 14, ETSU's 10 and Samford's five.
Freshman Liam Brooks picked up the first two points for the men as he placed seventh in the very first event of the day, the 10,000m. Brooks clocked in at 31:57.63 which was a season best for WCU.
Sophomore Laney Browder got the scoring started for the women as she picked up three points in the 10,000m as she placed sixth with a time of 39:42.86.
The next scoring event for the men was the hammer throw as four Catamounts contributed to the cause. Junior Scott Peretin led the way as he took second with a toss of 52.34m (171-09). Senior Jared Johnson also stood on the podium in third with a mark of 51.07m (167-07) while sophomore Mateius Brown just missed out on the top-three in fourth after stopping the tape at 49.99m (164-00). The final point contributor was junior Evan Albertson who took eighth at 47.41m (155-06). All told the Catamounts scored 20 points in the event.
The women's hammer followed which saw WCU's first champion crowned as junior Hailey Cook led the way with a season best and winning toss of 50.88m (166-11).
The women's pole vault followed and WCU's second champion took the stage as sophomore Meghan Breden topped 3.81m (12-06.00), a season best, to claim the crown. Senior Korie Bennett and ETSU's Ashley Kessler each cleared 3.66m (12-00.00) but Kessler claimed second due to number of attempts while Bennett came in third. WCU's final scorer in the event was junior Sage Proffitt who tied for sixth after topping 3.36m (11-00.25).
The women's long jump finished up next as juniors Tiffani Lewis and Chenell Bryan each finished on the podium. Lewis took second with a distance of 5.60m (18-04.50) while Bryan came in third after touching down at 5.58m (18-03.75). Freshman Tamilia Wright also picked up three points for the Catamounts as she came in sixth with a mark of 5.47m (17-11.50).
WCU picked up four points in the men's javelin as senior Dustin Triplett took fifth with a season best toss of 53.01m (173-11).
Sophomore Thor Smith and Triplett earned five points for the men in the pole vault. Both individuals cleared 4.61m (15-01.50) but Smith earned sixth due to number of attempts while Triplett took seventh.
Freshman Jamie Brown brought home WCU's first men's individual championship as he topped the field in the long jump. Brown touched down at 7.36m (24-01.75) to claim the victory. Fellow freshman Tyrie Adams just missed out on the podium as he finished fourth with a distance of 6.85m (22-05.75). Another freshman, Draven Crist, brought home seventh with a leap of 6.71m (22-00.25) while senior Christian Carswell came in eighth at 6.68m (21-11.00). All told WCU earned 18 points in the event.
Freshman Jordan Bostian picked up two points in the men's 3,000m steeplechase as she finished seventh with a time of 9:45.44.
Senior Kaitlyn Shetler brought home WCU's final top-three finish as she took third in the women's 3,000m steeplechase with a time of 11:21.92. Sophomore Katarina Ruehl finished two spots back in fifth after crossing the line in 11:42.34.
Carswell (3,385 pts.) and Crist (3,252 pts.) sit in first and second after day one in the men's decathlon while Gaines (2,951 pts.) leads the way in the women's heptathlon.
The Catamounts return to action tomorrow as action begins at 9 am Friday morning at the Catamount Athletic Complex.
Current men's team standings:
1. Samford -- 52 points
2. Western Carolina -- 51
3. ETSU -- 40
4. VMI -- 31
5. Furman -- 30
6. The Citadel -- 24
7. Wofford -- 6
8. UNCG -- 0
Current women's team standings:
1. Western Carolina -- 72.5 points
2. Samford -- 59.5
3. ETSU -- 33
4. The Citadel -- 18
5. Chattanooga -- 15
t-6. VMI -- 14
t-6. Furman -- 14
8. Wofford -- 5
9. UNCG -- 3
10. Mercer -- 0
All-Southern Conference Performers (Women)
Korie Bennett, pole vault third
Meghan Breden, pole vault champion
Chenell Bryan, long jump third
Hailey Cook, hammer throw champion
Holly Gaines, javelin second
Tiffani Lewis, long jump second
Kaitlyn Shetler, 3,000m steeplechase third
Kennedy Williams, javelin third