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McMillen gives Pioneers first-ever outdoor gold at SAC Championships

McMillen gives Pioneers first-ever outdoor gold at SAC Championships

HICKORY, N.C. --- Nicole McMillen became the first Tusculum University outdoor track & field athlete to win gold at the South Atlantic Conference Championships as she won the women's 3000-meter steeplechase Thursday evening at the Irwin Belk Track on the campus of Lenoir-Rhyne University.

Tusculum's men had a pair of medalists as Luis Morris was third in the pole vault and Kyler Hodges took third in the steeplechase, while Will Cronin had a fourth-place finish in the 10,000 meters.

Through six events, the Tusculum men are in sixth with 13 points and the Pioneer women are also sixth with 11 points. A total of five men and four women advanced into finals for Tusculum in track competition, which will resume Saturday due to the threat of heavy rain on Friday.

MEN
Morris entered the pole vault competition at 3.85 meters and cleared his first three attempts. He was successful at 4.30 meters (14 feet, 1 1/2 inches) to break his own school record of 4.20 meters and earn a bronze medal in the event.

Hodges shaved more than 20 seconds from his previous best in the steeplechase (10:07.90), earning third place with a time of 9:46.96. Alejandro Perez picked up a couple of points for the Pioneers as he took seventh in 10:14.55. Hodges also qualified for the finals in the 1500 with a seventh-place finish in 4:05.52, which beat Cronin's school record by six seconds.

In the 10,000 meters, Cronin cut more than two minutes off his time in last year's event (33:26.88) and placed fourth in a time of 31:17.77.

All-American Widchard Guervil advanced to the finals in both the 100 meters and 200 meters, placing fourth in the 100 at 10.51 seconds and fifth in the 200 at 21.94 seconds. Jaydon Johnson and Malek Folston each advanced in the 400 hurdles, with Johnson's fifth-place time of 56.95 seconds beating Folston's previous school record of 57.02 seconds set last year. Folston also beat his school record, qualifying sixth in 56.98 seconds.

Jamire Thompson finished ninth in the 110 hurdles (15.74 seconds) and broke his own school record of 15.74 seconds set earlier this year. In field events, Guillaume Devries was ninth in the long jump at 6.68 meters (21 feet, 11 inches), while Evan Grooms beat his school record in the hammer throw with a 14th-place mark of 40.78 meters (133 feet, 9 inches), more than three meters better than his previous best.

WOMEN
McMillen broke her own school record by 1 1/2 seconds and beat runner-up Kathleen O'Neill of Carson-Newman by 16 1/2 seconds to become the first Pioneer (men or women) to win gold at the SAC Outdoor Championships. Her time of 10:49.93 moved McMillen up one spot on the NCAA Division II performance list.

McMillen also qualified for the finals in the 1500 meters after finishing seventh overall in preliminaries with a time of 4:53.63. In the final event of the day, Alissa Furches placed eighth in the 10,000 meters with a time of 40:07.01.

Including McMillen, Tusculum advanced a total of four qualifiers into finals on Saturday. I'Keriah Day advanced in both the 200 and 400 meters, placing sixth in preliminaries at 25.48 seconds in the 200 and eighth in the 400 at 58.33 seconds. Earthaiza Watkins qualified third in the 400 meters and broke her own school record with a time of 57.14 seconds.

Other top performers were Yoland Boyce, who was ninth in the 800 meters at 2:24.07, and Destini Wilson who placed 11th in the long jump at 4.97 meters (16 feet, 3 3/4 inches). Several school records were set during Thursday's competition, with Kaynashia Carter setting a new mark in the 100 meters at 12.52 seconds and placing 14th overall. In field events, Tynaja Stewart broke the school record in the javelin with a throw of 21.06 meters (69 feet, 1 inch), and Alyssa Farmer broke her own record in the hammer throw with a 12th-place toss of 34.69 meters (113 feet, 10 inches).

South Atlantic Conference Outdoor Track & Field Championships
at Irwin Belk Track, Hickory, N.C.
Tusculum results (Day 1 of 2)
MEN
Preliminaries
100. 4. Widchard Guervil, 10.51 (qualifies); 11. Kedar Ashford, 10.68; 17. Xavier Billups, 10.78; 18. Gibran Williams, 10.78; 21. Gerard Hearst, 10.94
110 hurdles: 9. Jamire Thompson, 15.70
200: 5. Widchard Guervil, 21.94 (qualifies); 12. Kedar Ashford, 22.32; 22. Gibran Williams, 22.90; 27. Gerard Hearst, 23.83; 37. Tyree Hilliard, 24.68
400: 23. Tyree Hilliard, 51.93; 25. Isaac Hybarger, 52.12; 31. Jonathan Julien, 56.05
400 hurdles: 5. Jaydon Johnson, 56.95 (qualifies); 6. Malek Folston, 56.98 (qualifies)
800: 18. Kyle Stanley, 2:02.44; 27. Isaac Hybarger, 2:08.11
1500: 7. Kyler Hodges, 4:05.52 (qualifies)

Finals
3000 steeplechase: 3. Kyler Hodges, 9:46.96; 7. Alejandro Perez, 10:14.55; 11. Carson Walls, 10:33.14
10000: 4. Will Cronin, 31:17.77
Pole vault: 3. Luis Morris, 4.30m (14-1 1/2)
Long jump: 9. Guillaume Devries, 6.68m (21-11); 23. Nick Jackson, 5.73m (18-9 3/4); 24. Jamire Thompson, 4.58m(15-1/2)
Hammer: 14. Evan Grooms, 40.78m (133-9); 20. Joseph Schwarz, 33.16m (108-9)
Javelin: 14. Nicholas Sisto, 42.49m (139-5)

Team scores (6 events): 1. Queens, 54; 2. Carson-Newman, 39; 3. Wingate, 37; 4.  Lenoir-Rhyne, 27; 5. Anderson, 18; 6. Tusculum, 13; 7. Newberry, 4; 8. Catawba, 3.

WOMEN
Preliminaries
100: 14. Kaynashia Carter, 12.52
200. 6. I'Keriah Day, 25.48 (qualifies); 13. Earthaiza Watkins, 25.90; 17. Kesia Griffith, 26.13; 18. Ke'Lah McMiller, 26.28; 24. Kaynashia Carter, 26.65
400: 3. Earthaiza Watkins, 57.14 (qualifies); 8. I'Keriah Day, 58.33 (qualifies); 9. Kesia Griffith, 58.35; 10. Ke'Lah McMiller, 58.61; 22. Brittany Bowery, 1:08.15
400 hurdles: 14. Deondra Thomas, 1:14.78
800: 9. Yoland Boyce, 2:24.07; 21. Karla Angulo, 2:32.99
1500: 7. Nicole McMillen, 4:53.63 (qualifies)

Finals
3000 steeplechase: 1. Nicole McMillen, 10:49.93
10000: 8. Alissa Furches, 40:07.01; 19. Brooklyn Smith, 45:55.80
Long jump: 11. Destini Wilson, 4.97m (16-3 3/4)
Hammer: 12. Alyssa Farmer, 34.69m (113-10); 18. Dynah Dunn, 29.24m (95-11)
Javelin: 20. Tynaja Stewart, 21.06m (69-1)

Team scores (6 events): 1. Queens, 66; 2. Lenoir-Rhyne, 57.5; 3. Carson-Newman, 33; 4. Anderson, 20; 5. Wingate, 19.5; 6. Tusculum, 11; 7. Catawba, 10; 8. Mars Hill, 8.5; 9. Newberry, 5.5; 10. Coker, 2.

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