Texans make collegiate history, capture unprecedented 10th Outdoor Title

Texans make collegiate history, capture unprecedented 10th Outdoor Title

LEVELLAND — Collegiate history was on the brink entering the final day.

The South Plains College Texans held a 23-point margin over Iowa Central after day two of the 2016 NJCAA Outdoor Track and Field National Championships at the Texan Track and Field Stadium in Levelland.

For head coach Chris Beene and his veteran squad, the Texans had only one option entering day three — extend their lead, dominate the field and go on to capture their 10th consecutive outdoor national championship.

"It just seems like everywhere I looked, we kept stepping up," Beene said. "We have kids like Hassan Abdi, who literally just ran himself into the ground for us. We had six or seven national champions, and when you start scoring 10 points at a time because you're winning it, the points add up pretty quick."

South Plains began the afternoon with a 2-3-4 finish in the men's 1500 meter run, led by sophomore Kelvin Keter's second place finish and final time of 3:54.32. Hassan Abdi took third with a time of 3:55.15, with Nicholas Rotich taking fourth with a 3:55.35.

Houston native DeVante Lacy, a sprinter out of Klein Oak high school was named national champion in the 400-meter dash after his first place finish and final time of 46.37. The Texans' Robert Dunning was named national runner-up for his second place finish in the 110 meter hurdles, crossing the finish line at the 14.04 mark. Okeen Williams used a late surge in the 400 meter hurdles, positing a final time of 50.02 and taking home the title of national champion after his first place finish.

"I said one of the reasons I came here was to win national championships," first year assistant coach Erik Vance said. "I knew the program was that good, and all we had to do was keep going and keep that momentum they had. We've had so much fun and just put in a lot of work, and to get that tenth one, and get the historic one being my first one, it's just really cool."

The Texans began their push for a national crown on day two of the meet, as sophomore Gabe Moore was the first athlete to be crowned national champion for South Plains on Wednesday after racking up 7097 points in the men's decathlon.

Freshman Fabian Edoki was crowned national champion after the Nigerian native soared 25' 11 ½" in the men's long jump competition. The Texans' Adrian Williams earned national champion honors after his final throw of 216' 6" was good enough for first in the men's javelin, while Kelvin Keter was crowned national champion in the men's 3000-meter steeplechase after posting a final time of 9:13.15.

"It means a lot to me to be part of something that has become so traditional here at South Plains," Moore said. "To be able to win 10 outdoor championships in a row just means the world to us. We had a great team here with people scoring in multiple events, and I was fortunate to win the decathlon for us. We have a great group of guys, and a great group of coaches who were able to put it all together for us."

The Texans put together a pair of second place finishes on day one, with Edoki earning second team All-American honors in the men's triple jump after soaring 51' 11¾", while Abdi placed second in the men's 10000 meters, earning the Amarillo native second team All-American honors with his final time of 31:07.53.

With the championship secured late Thursday afternoon, the Texans wanted to put a stamp on what they started nearly a decade ago. In the final event of the meet, the Texans 4x400 team comprised of Williams, Dunning, Lacy and Dedrian Windham ran a 3:08.48, taking first in the event and putting a seal on the national championship trophy.

The Texans historic performance is one that will not soon be forgotten, as South Plains won in dominating fashion, scoring 146 team points, with second place finisher Iowa Central totaling jut 89. Saturday's championship marks Beene's 32nd NJCAA national title as head coach of South Plains. Yet, coach Beene will tell you it's more about the athletes he recruits, and the successful men and women they turn out to be, that mean the most.

"It's more about these kids than it is us," Beene said. "We just want to keep winning and get rings for these kids, and the more we win, the more recognition our program gets, and the more people want to come recruit our kids.

"It's all about graduating these kids and sending them on to the next level. Obviously we want to win the titles, because that's our goal and we recruit with that, but I'm more proud truthfully when we go to meets, and I see kids that have graduated from here and gone to these big Division I schools. That's really the job."

The Lady Texans finished the season with a fifth place national finish.

Lubbock native Morgan Hartsell led the way for the Lady Texans on Wednesday after the former Frenship Lady Tiger was crowned national champion in the women's pole vault, positing a final height of 11' 11.75". Ciearah Hairston impressed in the women's heptathlon after placing third overall with a final point total of 4610. Melody Korie went on to earn second team All-American honors after placing second overall for the Lady Texans in the women's long jump with a final distance of 20' 3.75".

"I was thankful to be able to capture another national title," Hartsell said. "I didn't want to let coach Beene down, and coming from an indoor national championship, you have a target on your back and everyone wants to beat you. I'm just thankful for the coaches and everything they've done for us."

The Lady Texans began the final day with a first place finish in the 4x100 meter relay, as Joi Gill, Mauricia Prieto, Taylor Hill and Medinah Spencer were crowned national champions with their final time of 45.61. Spencer was named national runner-up in the 400 meter hurdles, placing second with a time 1:00.12. Prieto would go on to take take third in the 200-meter dash with a time of 23.61. The Lady Texans would then go on to take second in the 4x400 meter relay, as Spencer, Prieto, Deja Harrison and Latriceia Smith placed second with a final time of 3:41.33.

Iowa Central won the women's division with 148 points, with New Mexico Junior College, Central Arizona and Monroe College rounding out the top four. The Lady Texans finished with 71 team points.