Texans overcome double-digit deficit to claim 11th consecutive outdoor national title

Texans overcome double-digit deficit to claim 11th consecutive outdoor national title

HUTCHINSON, Ka.—The Texans faced a double-digit deficit entering Saturday's championship finals.

That didn't feel like the case on Friday night in a team meeting called by head coach Erik Vance. A first-year head coach from the small town of Panhandle, Texas, Vance, nor his team, flinched.

The objective was clear: create opportunities, capitalize when the time came, and most importantly, leave no doubt.

The Texans did just so, dominating a field of the countries' top athletes en route to their 11th consecutive men's Outdoor National Championship.

"I don't know much else to say about it besides these kids have worked extremely hard for this and this has been the goal since day one," Vance said. "We came out today and had some ups and downs and had times where it was a little tighter than we thought it would be, but at the end of the day they executed and we get to go home with the big trophy."

South Plains finished with 126 team points, followed by national runner-up Barton County's 98 points. Iowa Central finished third with 73, with Hinds taking fourth with 56 and Butler placing fifth with 54. Iowa Central led after two days with 42 points.

Laquan Nairn closed the gap in the first event of the day as the freshman from the Bahamas set a mark of 24' 2.50" in the long jump earning a second place finish. Nairn was joined by teammates Derrick Monroe and Saahir Bethea who placed eighth and ninth with their final marks of 23' 9" and 23' 8.25".

The Texans went one-two in the 110 hurdles as Robert Dunning earned national champion honors with a time of 13.81, while William Watson took second with a time of 13.99. Jordan Atkinson used a 21.33 in the men's 200 meters to earn a seventh place finish. The Texans would then place three runners inside the top four in the 400 hurdles as Okeen Williams took first with a 51.85, followed by Rayan Holmes' 52.49, good enough for second. William Watson used a 53.07 to take fourth as the Texans picked up 23 points in a single event.

"Our kids just went out and did what they needed to do in a lot of areas, and we have to give them all the credit," South Plains assistant coach Justin Hobbs said. "They made all of us very proud, and we had a wide variety of events where we needed them to step up and do some things for us. Collectively, it wasn't one event that saved us, it was the overall work of the team that helped us get another championship."

Nicholas Rotich earned a sixth-place finish in the mile run with a time of 4:06.31, while teammate Omero Rodriguez placed eighth with a 4:07.64. Felix Kosgei earned a fifth place finish in the men's 5k with a time of 15:08.49, while Rodriguez used a late surge to take eighth with a time of 15:28.25. Kosgei would then go on to take fourth in the men's 10k with a 31:42.15. In the men's high jump, Kwaume McGee cleared 6' 11.75" to take fourth overall, while Adrian Williams used a throw of 197' 8" to take second in the men's javelin.

The Texans' 4x800 relay team comprised of Dekaryea Freeman, Rotich, Robert Downs Jr. and Rodriguez crossed the line at 7:40.88 to take third. In the final event of the meet, South Plains' 4x400 relay team made up of Junior Charles, Atkinson, Williams and Montel Hood posted a time of 3:08.38 to take second.

"Ten in a row was fantastic, and we knew right away trying to get number 11 was going to be extremely difficult," South Plains assistant coach Frank Barker said. "Midway through the day I thought there was a chance we might not get that, and then all at once things started to come together and started working for us. To get this one with this group of kids is a very special feeling."

The Lady Texans ended the year with a sixth-place national finish compiling 63.5 points over three days. New Mexico JC won the women's crown with 97 points, followed by Barton County, Iowa Central and Monroe College.

Natassha McDonald was named a national champion in the women's 400 meters as the freshman from Toronto ran a 53.52. Mauricia Prieto used a 24.17 in the women's 200 meters to take third while Seselia Dala placed third in the women's 10k with a time of 37:51.26. Jannia Price used a heave of 149' 8" to take third in the women's discus, while Melody Korie earned a third place finish in the women's long jump with a mark of 19' 0.75".

Kiona Bradshaw placed eighth in the shot put with a mark of 43' 9.25.". In the women's 4x00 relay, Omotayo Abolaji, Prieto, Taylor Hill and Safia Bright took fifth with a time of 46.45. South Plains would then take second in the women's 4x400 as Agnes Abrocquah, Prieto, Latriceia Smith and McDonald posted a time of 3:44.74. in the women's 4x800, Poro Gahekave, Seselia Dala, Smith and Hellen Maasotuo ran a 9:15.92 to take second.