Southeast off to fast start at OVC meet

Saturday, May 7, 2005

CLARKSVILLE, Tenn. -- Southeast Missouri State track and field coach Joey Haines could not have imagined a much better start for his teams on the opening day of the Ohio Valley Conference Outdoor Championships.

Southeast athletes won four of the 12 finals events held Friday and finished high in several others as both the men and women opened up solid leads. Action resumes at 10 a.m. today on the campus of Austin Peay as the meet concludes.

The Southeast men, trying to unseat eight-time defending champion Eastern Illinois, have 87 points to 68 for the second-place Panthers. Samford is a distant third with 23.

The Southeast women, shooting for their third consecutive OVC outdoor title -- to go along with two straight conference indoor crowns -- have 58 points to 33 for second-place Eastern Illinois. Samford is third with 28.

"We really had a good day. We couldn't have asked for much more," Haines said. "We had so many people step up on both teams."

Andrew Lambert, a Sikeston High School graduate, won the high jump (6 feet 7 inches) and finished second in the long jump (23-2 3/4).

Jason Theodorakos, a first-year javelin thrower who originally came to Southeast as a baseball player, captured his specialty with a career-best performance (198-10).

Brian Knippen won the shot put (56-2) and was second in the javelin (192-5).

Also for the Redhawks, freshman Kevin McNab was second in the 3,000-meter steeplechase (9:24.63) and Ryan Doty tied for second in the high jump (6-5).

The Redhawks also advanced a host of athletes out of Friday's preliminaries, led by Miles Smith, who had the best times in the 200 (20.99) and 400 (47.46).

"We had some guys really step up," Haines said. "Andrew Lambert had a great day. He's been hurt all year and we basically just held him out the whole outdoor season to hopefully get him ready for this meet.

"Another guy who really came through is Ryan Doty, who is a walk-on from Egyptian (Ill.) High School just across the river."

Added Haines: "Last year the high jump and javelin were two events Eastern Illinois just killed us in, and we won both of those this time. We've got a long way to go, but we feel good about it."

On the women's side, freshman Kathy Coleman was Southeast's only winner as she captured the long jump (20-4 1/2) with a school-record performance.

Jackson High School product Lindsey Meyr finished second in the javelin (122-11), while freshman Lindsay Hearne was third (121-9).

Also for the Redhawks, Nichole Portell placed second in the shot put (45-9 1/4) with a career-best distance, and Colleen Burke finished second in the 3,000 steeplechase (11:24.54).

Like the men, the women also advanced numerous athletes out of Friday's preliminaries.

"Going two-three in the javelin was big, and Nichole Portell had a great throw," Haines said. "Our women have had so many injuries, so we knew this year was a challenge. People are just stepping up."

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