Feb. 28, 2009
The Rice women's track and field team combined superior depth in the distance events and inspired efforts in the sprints and field events to turn a tight team race into a no-doubter, taking their third consecutive C-USA indoor title at the Yeoman Fieldhouse on Saturday.
The Owls totaled 148 points, easily outdistancing Houston (108) for the title, and 15 more than their winning total from 2008.
"Out kids come conference each year ready to compete and that was the difference today," Rice head women's coach Jim Bevan said. "They come here expecting to do well, and they pick each other up when things get tough. I can't stress enough how much of a team effort this was. Some people think of track as an individual sport, but we compete as a team. If we have a down moment in one event, they pick each other up and not focus on what has happened, but on what is up next," Bevan noted.
Bevan was named Coach of the Year while senior Lennie Waite was named the meet's high point scorer for women. Waite won a pair of events and finishing third in another on Saturday. She opened her day by winning the mile in 4:49.45. She came back to finish third in the 800 (2:10.97), then capped her night by leading a dominating Rice effort in the 3,000 with a winning time of 9:40.16.
While the Owls strength in the distance events was expected heading into the weekend, their winning team total was bolstered by points in several unexpected events.
Rice swept the top two spots in the pole vault, and also picked up six points in the triple jump. In the vault, sophomore Ari Ince came into the meet as the top-ranked performer and she gave Rice its fourth consecutive indoor vaulting title, while freshman Cleona Oliver placed second. In the triple jump, sophomore Sarah Agara and senior Jenny Glover finished fourth and eighth.
"It was great to see a senior like Jenny Glover step up and score at conference for the first time in her career. That shows what a team effort this was," Bevan noted. "When we went 1-2 in the pole vault, that was the moment I knew we were over the top. That's a credit to the job that David Butler does with the vaulters. They were ready to complete today," he added.
Junior Shakera Reece covered the Owls' efforts in the sprints, finishing third in both the 60 and the 200 meters, while sophomore Kimberly Stanford clocked a career-best 8.59 in the 60 hurdles to finish fourth.