UTA men’s indoor track and field victorious in Sun Belt Championships

John Sauerhage, track and field head coach, cheers on his team in the women's 3000 meter run Feb. 19 at the 2018 Sun Belt Indoor Track and Field Championships inside of the Birmingham CrossPlex in Birmingham, Alabama. The men’s indoor track and field team won the 2019 Sun Belt Indoor Championship title.

With last year’s second-place finish still fresh on the its mind, the UTA men’s indoor track and field team took home the 2019 Sun Belt Indoor Championship title on Tuesday.

Going into the final event of the meet, UTA was in first place with 120 points, six over Texas State University’s 114.

Senior sprinters D’Undre Mitchell, Erik Martinsson, and Brenden Wallace and freshman Lucas Van Klaveren put the meet to bed with a gold-medal finish in the 4x400 meter relay.

“It was a heroic team effort,” head coach John Sauerhage said in a press release. “Every time we had a mishap, the next person stepped up in a big way. Our seniors were huge at this meet, and we are so happy for them and the entire team.”

Tuesday’s finish gave the Mavericks their third conference title in six years and 11th of all time. The men have conquered the cross-country and indoor track titles this academic year, meaning they are one outdoor track and field title away from completing the program’s third triple crown. Sauerhage said based on what he’s seen, the outdoor title is within reach.

Senior Deontre Haynes said the meet was a fight from start to finish.

“This just gave us even more energy to train to get that triple crown,” he said.

The men’s team placed first in the distance medley, 400-meter, 800-meter and the 4x400 meter relay. Martinsson dominated his way to gold in the latter three events, earning 22.5 points for UTA, second-most at the meet.

The Stockholm, Sweden native said he’d been trying to achieve the 400 and 800-meter double for three years now.

“It’s a good feeling to end on this note at indoor conference,” he said.

Distance runner seniors Grayson Birka and Garrett Moore and sophomores Connor Butterfield and Jared Lautenslager led the charge in the distance medley, battling with Texas State to win by 0.7 seconds.

Junior distance runner Justin Domangue notched two runner-up finishes in the 3000 and 5000-meter runs and third in the mile. In total, he tallied 22 points, the third-most by an individual at the meet.

Haynes placed second in tight finishes of the 60 and 200-meter sprint. Senior hurdler Victor Fincher earned silver in the 60-meter hurdles. In all three events, both athletes finished 0.01 seconds off the lead.

“That just motivates us to keep working hard and know that there’s still more walls to climb,” Haynes said of his and Fincher’s times.

The women finished sixth with 58 points in a competitive mid-table battle. Senior jumper Alexus Henry leaped her season-best 1.82 meters to earn gold in the high jump while earning fifth in the pentathlon.

Junior jumper Juleen Lewis earned two podium finishes, a silver-medal triple jump of 12.45 meters and bronze in the long jump at 5.87 meters.

Freshman pole vaulter Abigail Kelly-Salo placed second, surpassing the 3.73-meter mark. In the 4x400-meter relay, senior Brianna McClure, sophomore Tatyana Terrell and freshmen Mikayla Koester and Vanessa Ugorji earned bronze to cap off the night.

Sauerhage said the women’s team lacked depth to score in as many events, but the result wasn’t from lack of effort.

“We didn’t live up to the task as much as we’d like to,” he said. “At the same time, we fought hard to get to 58 points.”

He said the the women’s team needs more strength in depth and recruiting and won’t be down for long. He expects the team to be competing for championships in the next few years.

@_julio_vega

sports-editor.shorthorn@uta.edu

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