AKRON, Ohio- The Louisville women’s team earned its first BIG EAST Indoor Track & Field Championship team title on Sunday, using the final event of the weekend to clinch the victory. The Cardinals finished with 110 points, edging Connecticut by 1.5 points to claim the title by the closest margin of victory since the 2000 championship. The Connecticut men scored 136.75 points to win their third team title in the last four years. It was first time both the men’s and women’s team titles have been decided by fewer than five points in the same year.
The Louisville women trailed 105.5-104 heading into the final event of the championship; the 4x400-meter relay. The Cardinals claimed third in the event while Connecticut finished sixth, giving Louisville the slight edge in points to take its first team title since joining the conference.
The Cardinals scored the majority of their points in the shot put and weight throw events. After taking the top three spots in the weight throw on the first day, Louisville claimed the top four spots in the shot put on Sunday to score 29 points in the event. Sophomore Khadija Abdullah led the pack, winning the individual title with a toss of 16.70 meters. Seniors Chinwe Okoro and D’Ana McCarty followed in second and third, respectively. Sophomore Amashi-Ali Kendall rounded out the top four for the Cardinals.
Connecticut won its third BIG EAST title in the last four seasons, beating out runner-up Notre Dame by a score of 136.75-132. The Huskies accomplished the feat with three individual titles and seven other top-three finishes.
Led by head coach Greg Roy, the Connecticut coaching staff was named 2011 BIG EAST Men’s Indoor Track & Field Coaching Staff of the Year. With Ron Mann at the helm, the Louisville coaching staff earned 2011 BIG EAST Women’s Coaching Staff of the Year.
Connecticut was led to victory by junior Aaron King, who was named Men’s Most Outstanding Field Performer. King won one individual title while notching two other top three finishes. He won the heptathlon with a total of 4,466 points, becoming the first BIG EAST athlete to win three career men’s heptathlons. King also placed second in the long jump and third in the triple jump.
USF sophomore Derrick Hopkins became the first Bulls’ athlete to earn Men’s Most Outstanding Track Performer. Hopkins won both the men’s 60-meter dash and the 200-meter dash, becoming the first USF athlete to win the individual title in both events. Hopkins notched a career-best time of 6.77 to win the 60 before registering a time of 21.30 to win the 200.
Connecticut senior Trisha-Ann Hawthorne was named Women’s Most Outstanding Track Performer after taking home individual titles in both the 60-meter dash and the 200-meter dash. She became the first athlete to win three-straight titles in two different events in the history of the BIG EAST Championship. Hawthorne edged out Louisville senior Saravia Richardson by .07 seconds to win the 60-meter dash. The senior registered an NCAA-qualifying time of 7.26, setting both the BIG EAST Championship and Stile Athletics Field House record. Hawthorne also broke the facility record in the 200-meter dash, winning with a time of 23.86.
West Virginia senior Chelsea Carrier earned Women’s Most Outstanding Field Performer after winning the pentathlon on Saturday. It was her second-straight title in the event, totaling 4,170 points which is the second-highest total in the history of the BIG EAST Championship. Carrier also won her second consecutive title in the 60-meter hurdles, crossing the line in 8.17 seconds.
Other impressive performances on the men’s side included the Notre Dame 4x800-meter relay team of Kevin Labus, Johnathan Shawel, Jeremy Rae and Jack Howard, who set a BIG EAST Championship and facility record with a time of 4:25.31 while taking first in the event. The time is also the fastest in the nation this season
Georgetown senior Chris Kinney won his second-straight BIG EAST title in 60-meter hurdles with a time of 7.75. Rutgers junior Aaron Younger also won his second-straight BIG EAST title in the 500-meter dash, finishing in a time of 1:01.89.
On the women’s side, Villanova senior Sheila Reid set the BIG EAST Championship and Stile Athletics Field House record in the 1,000-meter run with a time of 2:43.70. It was her second straight title in the event. Reid also anchored the 4x800-meter relay team that won the title with a time of 8:42.88 to set a facility record. The squad just edged out Connecticut by .06 seconds to win the event, as Reid held off Huskies’ junior Heather Wilson down the final stretch.
USF senior Denise von Eynatten won the women’s pole vault, clearing a height of 4.31 meters to set a BIG EAST Championship record as well as reach the NCAA automatic qualifying standard.
St. John’s had a pair of individual champions. Sophomore Molly Ellis won a tight women’s 400-meter dash, taking the crown with a time of 55.06. It was the first individual title in the 400-meter dash for St. John’s and the first individual win in a running event since 2006. Senior Priscilla Frederick won the women’s high jump, clearing 1.79 meters becoming the first St. John’s athlete to win the event since 1984.
Women’s Final Scores
1. Louisville, 110
2. Connecticut, 108.5
3. Villanova, 86
4. Georgetown, 80
5. West Virginia, 66
6. Cincinnati, 58
8. Notre Dame, 56
9. Pittsburgh, 48
10. St, John’s, 38
11. Syracuse, 36
12. Providence, 19
13. DePaul, 11
14. Marquette, 5.5
Men’s Final Scores
1. Connecticut, 136.75
2. Notre Dame, 132
3. Villanova, 92
4. Louisville, 87
5. USF, 63.75
6. Georgetown, 55
7. Pittsburgh, 47
8. Rutgers, 45
9. Syracuse, 44
10. Providence, 32
11. DePaul, 29
12. Marquette, 15.5
Men’s Coaching Staff of the Year
Connecticut (Ted Gibbons, Rich Miller, Greg Roy, Maureen Butler)
Women’s Coaching Staff of the Year
Louisville (Dale Cowper, Bryce Allen, Jake Jacoby, Terry Winston, Christine Krellwitz, Ron Mann)
Men’s Most Outstanding Track Performer
Derrick Hopkins, USF, So.
Women’s Most Outstanding Track Performer
Trisha-Ann Hawthorne, Connecticut, Sr.
Men’s Most Outstanding Field Performer
Aaron King, Connecticut, Jr.
Women’s Most Outstanding Field Performer
Chelsea Carrier, West Virginia, Sr.