Otahks capture another OVC title

Sunday, May 9, 2004

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. -- Southeast Missouri State University track and field coach Joey Haines didn't think any Ohio Valley Conference team could challenge his women's squad over the weekend.

Haines proved to be quite the prophet, as the Otahkians romped to their second consecutive OVC outdoor championship Saturday, winning by more than 100 points on the campus of Samford University.

The Otahkians, who also won this year's OVC indoor title, scored 205 points. Eastern Illinois was a distant second with 101 points.

On the men's side, Southeast fell far short in its bid to deny Eastern Illinois an eighth straight championship. The Panthers had 260 points while the Indians scored 163 to repeat as runners-up.

"It's not easy when you're expected to win. There's a lot of pressure," said Haines, named the OVC outdoor women's coach of the year for the second straight season. "We knew everybody was gunning for us, but the girls came through. We had a lot of people banged up, but so many people really stepped up.

"As for our men, I'm disappointed that the score is as far away as it was, but Eastern Illinois just had too many people coming in too many different directions, like our women did. But our men had some real good performances."

Southeast's women won five events Saturday, including junior Heather Jenkins' third consecutive discus title. On Friday, she captured her third straight shot put crown with an OVC-record throw and now has 10 OVC titles overall. The Central High School product repeated as OVC outdoor female athlete of the year.

Other winners for the Otahkians were sophomore Brooke Woodruff, who repeated as 800-meter champion; sophomore Michele Jett, who repeated as pole vault champion; sophomore Lindsay Zeiler in the 1,500; and the 400 relay team of sophomore Natasha Fortenberry, freshman Nyisha Porter, senior Lyndsey Stevenson and sophomore Rose Fulton.

Finishing second were Zeiler in the 5,000, Stevenson in the 400 hurdles, senior Kaci Pilcher in the 1,500, senior Megan Youse in the discus and the 1,600 relay team. Heather West, a sophomore from Jackson High School, was fourth in the triple jump.

Haines also had high praise for several unheralded athletes who came up big.

Freshman Kia White was sixth in the triple jump after placing second in the long jump on Friday with a performance that places her on Southeast's all-time top 10 list. Sophomore Kyra Joiner was fifth in the 400 and seventh in the 400 hurdles. Sophomore Megan Rosenkoetter was third in the pole vault after placing second in the javelin on Friday.

"White and Joiner both didn't score in the OVC indoor meet, but those two and Rosenkoetter really stepped up when we were banged up," Haines said. "Those were the kind of efforts we got."

On the men's side, senior Jay Heddell won his fourth straight discus title to go with his shot put victory on Friday to give him 10 OVC crowns.

Perhaps the highlight for the Indians was freshman Miles Smith winning the 400 in an upset over Tennessee State's Nick Horton, the defending champion and reigning OVC outdoor male athlete of the year.

Smith, who earlier this season ran 46.84 seconds for the third-fastest time in school history, clocked 46.49 to edge past Horton's 46.52. Smith was also second in the 200.

"Miles ran an incredible race," Haines said. "It was really something."

The Indians' other win came in the 1,600 relay, which Smith anchored. Other members were freshman Alonzo Nelson, sophomore Chaz Brown and senior Jared Tanz.

Placing second were Tanz, a senior from Perryville, in the 800; sophomore Jordan Willi in the pole vault; Nelson in the 110 hurdles; and the 400 relay team, of which Smith was also a member. Nelson was also third in the 400 hurdles.

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