OVC honors Haines with final chance to host conference meet

Friday, May 2, 2008
AARON EISENHAUER ~ aeisenhauer@semissourian.com Miles Smith led the 400-meter race as he approached the finish line at the recent SEMOtion Invitational. Smith will be making his final home appearance at the OVC outdoor championships.

The illustrious career of Southeast Missouri State track and field coach Joey Haines is winding down as Haines will retire following this season.

That's why Haines considers it a blessing that Southeast is hosting his final Ohio Valley Conference meet.

The 2008 OVC outdoor championships will take place today and Saturday at the Abe Stuber Complex. Events begin at 1 p.m. today and 11 a.m. Saturday.

Southeast last hosted the OVC outdoor meet in 2006. The meet rotates annually among conference schools, so Southeast was not scheduled to have it again for several years.

But Haines figured why not make a push to hold it in Cape Girardeau one more time before he steps down after 26 years at Southeast?

"It was Eastern Kentucky's time [to host]. The coach is a good friend of mine and I talked him into recommending to the OVC that we have it," Haines said. "Then Don [Southeast athletic director Don Kaverman] had to convince everybody at the OVC meetings."

The OVC was convinced, much to Haines' delight.

"It makes it extra special to have it here," he said.

Haines has led Southeast to 20 OVC championships, 15 by the women and five by the men. And that's all since 1992, when the program joined the conference.

Seven of those titles have come since 2004, with the women capturing five and the men two.

Southeast was shut out in the OVC team championship race last year, after the women won the 2006 indoor and outdoor meets, and the men claimed the outdoor title.

Earlier this year, at the OVC indoor meet, Southeast's men placed third and the women tied for fifth as both squads were hurt by injuries.

While Haines doesn't consider either of his groups to be clear-cut favorites for the top spot this time around, he believes competing at home brings out the best in his athletes. That was evident in 2006, when Southeast swept the OVC titles as the host.

"We've never run bad at home, knock on wood," Haines said. "We always run good at home."

Eastern Illinois is the defending outdoor champion in both the men's and women's divisions — Southeast's men were second and the women third — while Eastern Kentucky's men and Tennessee State's women won this year's indoor titles.

Haines expects a tight three-team race for the men's championship between Southeast, Eastern Illinois and Eastern Kentucky.

"It's hard to tell which one is the favorite," Haines said. "The three of us should be fighting it out.

"It could come down to the mile relay [the meet[']s final event that Southeast is heavily favored in]. If it comes to that, we're OK because we'll win that.

"We're starting to get healthy on the men's side. We've had so many people out this year. We're not going to have everybody, but I think we're healthy enough where we should be in the hunt."

Southeast's men will be bolstered by the presence of four-time All-American Miles Smith, who did not compete during the OVC indoor meet as a precaution after his legs were tight and sore.

Smith, who earned a gold medal at the 2005 World Championships as a member of the U.S. 1,600-meter relay team, is currently the NCAA's sixth-ranked 400-meter runner.

Smith, who has been healthy the entire outdoor season, already has won five OVC 400-meter titles. He has anchored four 1,600 relay squads to OVC crowns. He will run in four events in the meet — 200, 400, 400 relay and 1,600 relay.

"Miles is ready to go," Haines said. "We'll decide on Saturday whether he's going to try and run fast in the 400, try to set an OVC record, or try to pace himself through all his races."

On the women's side, Haines said Southeast hopes to finish among the top three. He said Tennessee State, Eastern Illinois and Jacksonville State are the front runners.

"We've just got too many distance girls out. We're just too distance poor right now," Haines said. "The top three is our goal realistically.

"Our women are young. We just need some confidence. Being at home should help us."

Abe Stuber Complex

Schedule of events

(all events finals except where noted)

Today

* 1 p.m. — Women's high jump, women's javelin, men's long jump

* 2 p.m. — Men's shot put

* 2:15 p.m. — Women's 3,000-meter steeplechase

* 2:35 p.m. — Men's 3,000-meter steeplechase

* 2:55 p.m. — Women's 100-meter hurdles (prelim)

* 3 p.m. — Men's high jump

* 3:10 p.m. — Men's 110-meter hurdles (prelim)

* 3:30 p.m. — Women's long jump, women's 400-meters (prelim)

* 3:45 p.m. — Men's 400-meters (prelim)

* 4 p.m. — Men's javelin, women's shot put, women's 100-meters (prelim)

* 4:15 p.m. — Men's 100-meters (prelim)

* 4:35 p.m. — Women's 800-meters (prelim)

* 4:50 p.m. — Men's 800-meters (prelim)

* 5:10 p.m. — Women's 400-meter hurdles (prelim)

* 5:25 p.m. — Women's 400-meter hurdles (prelim)

* 5:45 p.m. — Women's 200-meters (prelim)

* 6 p.m. — Men's 200-meters (prelim)

* 6:20 p.m. — Women's 10,000-meters

* 7 p.m. — Men's 10,000-meters

Saturday

n 11 a.m. — Men's triple jump, women's pole vault

* Noon — Men's discus, women's 400-meter relay

* 12:10 p.m. — Men's 400-meter relay

* 12:20 p.m. — Women's 1,500-meters

* 12:35 p.m. — Men's 1,500-meters

* 12:55 p.m. — Women's 100-meter hurdles

* 1 p.m. — Women's triple jump, men's pole vault

* 1:10 p.m. — Men's 100-meter hurdles

* 1:25 p.m. — Women's 400-meters

* 1:35 p.m. — Men's 400-meters

* 1:45 p.m. — Women's 100-meters

* 1:55 p.m. — Men's 100-meters

* 2 p.m. — Women's discus

* 2:05 p.m. — Women's 800-meters

* 2:15 p.m. — Men's 800-meters

* 2:30 p.m. — Women's 400-meter hurdles

* 2:40 p.m. — Men's 400-meter hurdles

* 2:50 p.m. — Women's 200-meters

* 3 p.m. — Men's 200-meters

* 3:10 p.m. — Women's 5,000-meters

* 3:35 p.m. — Men's 5,000-meters

* 4 p.m. — Women's 1,600-meter relay

* 4:10 p.m. — Men's 1,600-meter relay

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