Otahks shoot for OVC title outdoors

Friday, May 2, 2003

After coming ever so close to winning the Ohio Valley Conference indoor track and field meet, Southeast Missouri State University's women have their sights set on capturing the OVC outdoor title this weekend.

Host Tennessee State, which captured the indoor championship and has also won the past two outdoor titles, figures to battle Southeast and Eastern Kentucky for the top spot when action is held today and Saturday in Nashville.

Today's competition begins at 1 p.m., with Saturday's events starting at 10:30 a.m.

"It'll be a dogfight between us and Tennessee State, and Eastern Kentucky is also strong," said Southeast coach Joey Haines, whose Otahkians captured the outdoor title in 2000 and were second last year. "Tennessee State won the indoor so they're the favorite, but we think we're a better team outdoors than indoors. We'll find out.

"I'll be real disappointed if we don't win it, but I've been disappointed before."

Tennessee State claimed indoor honors with 139.5 points, followed by Southeast with 136 and Eastern Kentucky with 130.

"The girls have to go to the meet and do what they can do. Nobody has to pull a big upset, they just have to do what they're capable of doing and we'll have a good chance to win," Haines said.

Going into the meet, the Otahkians have the league's top performances in several events.

Central High School graduate Heather Jenkins, who won the shot put and weight throw at the OVC indoor, has the top shot put (48-0 1/2) and discus (157-3) during the outdoor season. She won both events at last year's outdoor meet as a freshman.

Courtney Haman, another Central product, is the two-time defending javelin champion and she has the top throw of the season at 153-9, which is nearly 22 feet further than any other throw in the OVC this year.

Meleisa Greene has the top long jump (19-0 1/4) and Brooke Woodruff, the indoor 800-meter champion, has the best time in that event (2:11.41).

Hannah Stuckenschneider has the second-best time in the 400 (54.91) and Laura VanHoevelaak has the second-fastest time in the 400 hurdles (61.11).

The Otahkians' two relay teams have the second fastest time, trailing Tennessee State in both events.

"It should be a good meet and our girls are looking forward to the competition," Haines said. "We're ready to go."

On the men's side, Eastern Illinois is the prohibitive favorite. The Panthers are shooting for their seventh consecutive OVC outdoor title as they have captured the crown every year since joining the league in 1996-97.

Haines said Southeast's men, who were third in the OVC indoor and second in last year's outdoor meet, should again battle for a second-place finish.

"We should win several events, but we just aren't deep enough to challenge Eastern Illinois," Haines said. "We'll probably win more events than anybody else, but we just don't have the depth. But we feel like we can hang on for second."

Shelton Scott, the OVC indoor champion in the long and triple jumps, will try to duplicate his double outdoors. He has the season's best triple jump (50-9 1/2) and fourth-best long jump (23-5 1/4). He is the two-time defending champion in the outdoor triple jump.

The Indians have the top three discus throwers in the conference. Brandon Myer has the top throw (167-5) with Jay Heddell, the two-time defending champion, second (164-8) and Daniel Jones third (159-2).

Heddell, this year's indoor and last year's outdoor champion in the shot put, has the best shot this season (55-2 3/4) with Myer, the 2000 and 2001 OVC champion, second (55-2).

Andrew Lambert has the best high jump (6-7 1/2) and Jordan Willi, the indoor pole vault champion, has the second-best vault (14-6).

On the track, Perryville product Jared Tanz has the best time in the 800 (1:55.59) while Chad Sierman has the top time in the steeplechase (9:18.50).

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