With 231 points, the Utah Valley University men's track and field team edged out foe Grand Canyon with 208.50 points to win its first WAC Championship title on Saturday at the conference indoor track and field championship meet held at the Air Force Academy.
Head coach Scott Houle was named the men's WAC Coach of the Year, and senior Michael McPherson earned the men's WAC Outstanding Field Athlete award. In addition, the Wolverines claimed 10 individual WAC titles.
McPherson earned 24 points for the Wolverines, including a first-place finish in the heptathlon with a mark of 5,546 points that set a school record. McPherson's performance currently ranks him No. 16 nationally, which places him among the top 16 that qualify to the NCAA Indoor Track and Field National Championship meet.
The UVU men entered the day as the reigning leader and widened the gap with McKay Burnett becoming a WAC Champion in the men's weight throw (17.01m) and Cole Eisenhour earning a WAC title of his own with a time of 8.06 seconds.
Grand Canyon kept the competition interesting, snatching extra points by sweeping the top five places in the 200m dash, but the Utah Valley distance squad helped the Wolverines pull away in the 3000m, sealing the victory with a record-breaking team in the mile relay.
The women's track and field team finished in third place with 123.50 points, behind champion Grand Canyon with 172 points and Kansas City with 164 points for second place.
"Coming into this meet, we weren't so much concerned about where we would finish, as much as we were worried that our athletes wouldn't hold up for three days of intense competition," Houle said. "To our excitement, they got stronger each day. They reacted so well to the tough competition, they cheered for each other and supported each other and made it a great environment for all of us."
In addition to the victory, seven school records were set at the championship meet, as well as two athletes breaking their own record twice over.
Senior Jessica Beatty broke her own school record for the first time in the 60m hurdle preliminary race with a time of 8.69 seconds, and then she broke her record for the second time in the meet with a time of 8.64 seconds in the finals, earning second place overall in the event.
Sophomore Lauren Hicks broke her school record in the triple jump for the first time with a mark of 12.11m. She busted the short-lived record on her next attempt with the now reigning mark of 12.12m, making it the third time Hicks broke her own indoor triple jump record this season, and crowning her the WAC Champion in the event.
Continuing the streak, Megan Elmont broke the long jump record with a mark of 5.67m and earning fourth place in the event.
Daven Russell set the men's shot put school standard with a toss of 16.01m, defeating the old record by nearly two feet and earning second place in the event.
The mile relay group consisting of Brandon Smart, Alex Walton, Trac Norris and Jake Morgan set the school record with a time of 3:17.01, good enough for a first-place finish in the final event of the meet, sealing their WAC victory. McPherson's school record in the heptathlon rounded out the UVU records set a the WAC Championship meet.
Norris earned a WAC title in the 800m run with a time of 1:54.57, a near eight second personal record for the junior. Norris also finished in second place in the mile run with a time of 4:24.72.
"This victory and recognition solidifies us in this conference. We proved that we belong here, and our athletes and coaching staff are doing their jobs well," Houle said. "Today's victory will go a long way for us. The competition was amazing, and our athletes rose to meet it. We had more than 20 athletes set personal records and rewrote our school record book along the way with seven new marks. The ability of our athletes to come to this meet with this intense competition and stand out is incomparable, and the best part is that they had fun while doing it."
Senior Beatty finished in second place in the high jump with a clearance of 1.64m.
Morgan finished in second place in the 400m dash with a time of 48.98 seconds. Jason Lynch finished in second place with a time of 8:51.71 in the 3000m run.
Utah Valley competes next at the NCAA Indoor Championships, pending McPherson's official invitation to the meet. The Wolverines begin the outdoor season at the UNLV Spring Invitational on March 20-21, in Las Vegas.