Feb. 26, 2010
Ari Ince extended Rice's winning streak in the indoor pole vault, but her Owls' teammates are in a tight battle in the quest for a fourth consecutive Conference USA Women's Indoor Track and Field title after the first night of completion at the Yeoman Field House on Friday night.
UTEP leads the competition after the first day of competition. The Miners scored 41 points, followed by the Owls (35), Tulsa (30) and host Houston (25). Rice head coach Jim Bevan expects the four-team race to go down to the wire when completion resumes on Saturday.
"It's playing out pretty much the way we scripted it so far," Bevan said. "It's going to be a great day of track and field for the fans to enjoy. It's going to be event by event all the way to the end. We're competing hard and we have a group of seniors who have never known anything but victory at this meet and we will depend on each of them tomorrow," he added.
Bevan pointed to senior Shannon Moran as an example of a senior stepping up when called upon.
"Shannon was here at 9 am this morning and competed in four events of the Pentathlon, but we decided to pull her from the last event and have her compete in the long jump. Even though she'd already been here all day, she came through with a personal best (5.78m; 18-11.75) to finish seventh and score a pair of points. That is a performance that needs to be noted," he added.
Ince cleared 3.85m (12-07.50) to earn her second consecutive conference indoor title and the fifth straight by an Owl at the women's indoor. Teammate Cleona Oliver broke free from a pack of vaulters, clearing 3.70m (12-01.50) on her third attempt to repeat as the silver medalist to score 18 of the Owls 35 points on the night.
Bevan also praised juniors Kimberly Stanford (8.47) and Alex Gibbs (8.70) who each posted personal bests in the 60 hurdles to qualify for Saturday's finals. The Owls will also lean heavily on the 800 meters, qualifying four runners (Keltie John, Victoria Walker, Heather Olson and Sophie Peters).
Field events begin at 1 p.m. on Saturday and running events start at 3 p.m.