By: Kenny Bybee (firstname.lastname@example.org)
2016 C-USA Indoor Championships
Birmingham CrossPlex • Birmingham, Alabama
Current Standings: Men -- 7th (19 points), Women -- 4th (20 points)
Championship Central | Day One Results | Live Results
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. -- Rice junior distance runner Cali Roper earned her fifth career C-USA individual title by taking gold in the women's 5000m to highlight day one of the C-USA Indoor Championships for the Rice track and field teams.
Roper, from Conroe, Texas, won her second straight C-USA Indoor 5000m title by finishing with a time of 16:18.65 in the 24-woman field to give the Owls 10 points. Between cross country and track and field, the title was Roper's fifth overall in her illustrious career.
Also earning all-conference honors was the women's distance medley relay team comprised of Abigail Cartwright, Akuira Young, Hannah Kay and Elsa Racasan. The foursome picked up six points for the Owls by finishing in a time of 11:50.46, a season-best mark.
Roper's running mate junior Katie Jensen earned the Owls another four points with a fifth place finish in the 5000m in a time of 16:56.21, a new season and indoor personal best.
"Today was a good start for us with Cali leading from gun to wire and Katie running an indoor PB and finishing fifth," Rice women's T&F head coach Jim Bevan said. "Cali took them out in 5:01 for the first mile and strung out the field. In the DMR we competed well with an outstanding leg from Elsa taking us from eighth to third. We have a number of big opportunities tomorrow and we're really looking forward to it."
On the men's side junior vaulter Vitaliy Bilenko placed second in the pole vault at the C-USA Indoor Championships for a second straight season, recording a height of 4.75m (15-07.00) to earn eight points.
Like the women, the men's distance medley relay team (Harry Sagel, Reagan Olguin, David Diaz, William Roberts) also placed third with a season-best time of 10:10.21 to capture six points. In the throws, the Owls picked up another three combined points with sixth and seventh place finishes, respectively, from Austin Riddle (17.69m) and Uche Ugwunze (16.75m) in the weight throw.
Rice qualified for three more athletes for Thursday's finals with Diaz (1:56.4) placing sixth in the prelims of the 800m and Veeral Shah (1:54.3) finishing eighth. The Owls also sit 4-5-6 heading into the final three events (60m hurdles, pole vault, 1000m) of the heptathlon. Sophomore Charlie Card-Childers leads the group with 2727 points, followed by Chris Sanders (2716 points) and Berk Norman (2621 points).
"Our DMR and Vitaliy had great days," Rice men's T&F head coach Jon Warren said. "I was thrilled with their performances. The heptathlon is going well so far and David and Veeral both made the final of a stellar 800 field along, with Filip who made the finals in the 60 hurdles with his fastest race of the season. Uche had a big PR in the weight and Austin was just one inch away from his school record in the same event. I am looking forward to a good day tomorrow."
The finale of the C-USA Championships will be streamed live Thursday at no charge at www.conferenceusa.com.