Collegiate Conferences Women’s Highlights with Grace Stark sidebar

Tonea Marshall (l) edged Grace Stark (r) in a barnburning SEC hurdle final, with the Florida frosh running history’s fastest Junior time. (ERROL ANDERSON/THE SPORTING IMAGE)

THIS QUICKIE COLLECTION of women’s stories is dedicated to the best of the indoor collegiate conference action, which of course turned out to be the yearly climax. Here they are in alphabetical order (see sidebar for listing of team winners of all Div. I conferences):


ACC: Virginia Tech Ends Drought

“This is our first indoor title with the women since 2008,” said Virginia Tech head Dave Cianelli after his squad roared to the ACC crown in dominant fashion. “We came in and knew we had a shot to do it, but obviously, you have to put it together. We have a lot of people here that, it’s their first time at a conference meet, and I thought they really came though well. We’re still a fairly young team. We have some outstanding seniors that provide some of that leadership and have been through some of conference wars over the past few years, and I think that helped a lot.”

The Hokies won 5 events—Caitlin Tate the 400, Sarah Edwards the mile, Sara Freix the 5000, the 4×4, Rachel Baxter the vault—in far outdistancing Miami, 105½–73 on Notre Dame’s oversized oval.


Big 10: Buckeyes Defend Successfully

Minnesota made it close, but Ohio State repeated as Big 10 women’s champs. The Buckeyes were DQed in the 4×4, but already had enough points to clinch against the Gophers, 104–99.

Junior Anavia Battle was a double winner for Ohio State, capturing a 60/200 combo in 7.29 and 22.79 (after a 22.75 heat). Penn State’s Danae Rivers also captured a pair, running 2:06.27 & 4:43.35 in the 800 and mile.




Big 12: Alfred Stars For Victorious Longhorns

Amassing the biggest score in Big 12 history, 180.33 points, 3-peating Texas romped to the team title over Texas Tech (131). The big player for the winners was St. Lucia soph Julien Alfred, who sprinted to 7.15 and 23.02 wins before adding a 53.31 third leg on the victorious 4×4 (3:32.64).

There were two other double winners, as Cailie Logue of host Iowa State captured the 3000 (9:28.88) and 5000 (16:29.48) on the oversized 300m track and Ruth Usoro of Texas Tech jumped 21-5½ (6.54) and 43-8 (13.31).


Mountain Pacific: Oregon Ends USC’s Reign

The Trojans were looking for a fourth straight Mountain Pacific win, but it wasn’t even close as the Ducks cruised to a 104½–73 win. Superior depth across the board was key for Oregon, as it scored only a single win, that a 10:59.39 DMR from the quartet of Susan Ejore, Gabby Beauvais, Taylor Chiotti and Carmela Cardama Baez. The best individual mark of the meet, held on Washington’s oversized 307m oval, came from USC soph Bailey Lear, who produced the year’s fastest low-altitude American and collegiate 400, 51.60.


SEC: 6 In A Row For Arkansas

Getting a 9:09.02/15:48.34 distance double from junior Katie Izzo, the Razorbacks rolled to a convincing 102–87½ win over LSU. Said Hog head Lance Harter, “Our first event of the day was the mile and they’re the ones who set the trend and momentum. There is a lot of pressure on them, because they came in with great seed marks. They rose to the challenge and grabbed 23 points. We were off to the races.”

High-end marks abounded in the nation’s toughest conference. Abby Steiner of Kentucky turned in the world’s fastest 200 of the year (22.57) and Alabama (3:29.36) produced the year’s fastest 4×4. Ellen Eckholm of Kentucky claimed the collegiate season’s highest jump (6-3¼/1.91) and Tyra Gittens of host Texas A&M racked up the year’s highest collegiate pentathlon score, 4391.

On the straightaway, Tonea Marshall of LSU and Grace Stark of Florida sparkled, the former winning the 60H by just 0.03, 7.89–7.91. Marshall’s mark rates as the =No. 10 performance in collegiate history, while Stark’s time represents the fastest ever turned in by a Junior (U20). (Continued below)

Stark had previously bettered the WJR and AJR with a 7.93 in the heats, but while the marks are certainly statistically acceptable, their acceptance as official records isn’t quite that clear-cut. To be ratified, WJRs require both dope testing and false-start-detection blocks. Neither was in place in the heats, so no WJR. USATF requires neither for AJRs, however, so the 7.93 is acceptable. Doping control was in place for the final, but again not the blocks, so that one’s not WJR-eligible either, but should be fine for AJR status. ◻︎

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