WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. --- Tusculum University opened competition Saturday at the two-day South Atlantic Conference Men's and Women's Indoor Track & Field Championships, being held at the JDL Fast Track.
Nicole McMillen earned her second career indoor gold medal in the 5,000 meters, then ran the anchor leg for the Tusculum distance medley relay team that set school and championship records en route to gold. Destini Wilson finished seventh in the pentathlon and set a school record to help the Pioneers to fourth place through six of 17 events.
Will Cronin earned a bronze medal in the men's 5,000 meters and the distance medley relay took fourth place as the Pioneers head into the second day of competition in sixth place among the eight teams that have earned points through five events.
In all, 10 Pioneers advanced to Sunday's championship final events, including four in the women's 400 meters. Widchard Guervil was the fastest runner in the men's 200 meters during Saturday's preliminaries, and Hachlaine Petit earned the number-two seed in the women's 400 meters. A total of eight school records were set during Saturday competition.
Competition on the final day of the SAC Indoor Track & Field Championships will begin at 9 a.m. with field events and 11 a.m. for track events.
McMillen ran 17:36.92 in the 5000 meters to win by 11.5 seconds and set a personal record in the event at the SAC Championships. The Pickering, Ontario native, who won gold in the mile at last year's championship meet, posted her third-best time of the season and her career in Saturday's race.
About an hour after winning the 5K, McMillen came back to run the 1,600-meter anchor leg in the distance medley relay as the Pioneers earned their first-ever SAC gold in a relay event by more than five seconds over Lenoir-Rhyne. Emmi Hulse ran the leadoff 1200 meters, followed by Kesia Griffith in the 400 meters and Gabrielle Beckett in the 800 meters in the 4,000-meter race. Tusculum's time of 12:43.08 broke the championship record of 12:56.63 set by Lenoir-Rhyne in 2019, and shattered the school record of 13:26.21 set at last year's SAC Championships.
Wilson, competing in the pentathlon for the first time as a Pioneer, accumulated 2,685 points to surpass the school record of 2,658 points set last year by Brianna Oats. Wilson's best event was the high jump, where she finished third at 1.57 meters (5 feet, 1 3/4 inches) and tied her own school record.
In prelimaries, the Pioneers qualified four for finals in the 400 meters led by Petit who was second overall in 58.48 seconds. Also advancing were Kenisha Stubbs, who took third in 58.80 seconds, Earthaiza Watkins, who took fifth in 59.72 seconds, and Ke'Lah McMiller, who ran 59.88 seconds and was sixth overall.
Stubbs also advanced to the finals in the 60-meter hurdles as she ran 9.16 seconds to break her own record of 9.44 seconds and place fifth in the field.
In the 60 meters, Kayneshia Carter had the sixth-best time in school history of 8.14 seconds and placed 17th in prelims. Watkins ran 26.23 seconds in the 200 meters to take 10th overall and move into eighth place on the program top 10 list. Beckett was 10th in the 800 meters in 2:24.60, her second-best time in the event as a Pioneer.
Queens leads the field heading into day two with 65 points, followed by Lenoir-Rhyne (58), Carson-Newman (25) and Tusculum (22), with Catawba and Anderson tied for fifth with 19 points apiece.
Cronin was in a three-runner breakaway at the end of the 5,000 meters, and took third with a time of 15:04.79 that was 1.2 seconds behind winner Anthony Raftis of Queens and .69 seconds behind runner-up Yannik Duppich of Queens. Cronin's time was his third-best of his Tusculum career and was the best-ever performance by a Pioneer at the SAC Championship.
The Pioneer distance medley relay team of Kyler Hodges (1,200), Isaac Hybarger (400), Kyle Stanley (800) and Taylor Tupps (1600) crossed the line in 10:36.45 and finished less than a second behind Lenoir-Rhyne and Catawba, which were declared co-champions after their tie was unable to be broken to the thousandths of a second (10:35.600), and Anderson (10:36.37).
Widchard Guervil advanced to the finals in both the 60 meters and the 200 meters, earning the top seed in the 200 finals with a time of 22.24 seconds and taking fifth in the 60 prelims at 6.87 seconds. David Saruni advanced in the 400 meters after placing eighth in 51.04 seconds, and Kyler Hodges took the 10th and final spot in the mile finals with a time of 4:27.12.
Antonio Aparicio, who became the first Pioneer to break two minutes in the 800 meters last weekend at the USC Open, improved on his record and advanced to Sunday's finals by placing fourth overall in 1:57.32. Jamire Thompson tied his own school record in the 60 hurdles with a 10th-place finish in 8.55 seconds.
In the 60 meters, Gerard Hearst finished 10th in 6.97 seconds, followed by Thurlow Wilkins in 11th at 6.98 seconds. Jontavus Walker just missed advancing in the 200, taking ninth in 22.78 seconds, and finished 12th in the 400 meters at 51.446 seconds. Tupps also came up one position shy of advancing, taking 11th overall in the mile at 4:28.78.
In the weight throw, Evan Grooms broke his own school record in the weight throw with a toss of 12.77 meters (41 feet, 10 3/4 inches), breaking his mark of 12.57 meters (41 feet, 3 inches) set at last year's SAC Championships.
Queens has the lead in the men's standings through five events with 57 points, with Wingate and Lenoir-Rhyne tied for second with 35 points. Carson-Newman (27 points) is fourth, followed by Catawba (17), Tusculum (11) and Anderson (10) in seventh place.
South Atlantic Conference Indoor Track & Field Championship
at Winston-Salem, North Carolina
Day 1 of 2
60: 17. Kayneshia Carter, 8.14.
60 hurdles: 5. Kenisha Stubbs, 9.16 (advances/school record); 12. Brianna Oats, 9.60.
200: 10. Earthaiza Watkins, 26.23; 11. Hachlaine Petit, 26.37; 13. Ke'Lah McMiller, 26.54; 15. Kayneshia Carter, 26.63; 22. Aliyah Adderley, 27.23.
400: 2. Hachlaine Petit, 58.48 (advances); 3. Kenisha Stubbs, 58.80 (advances); 5. Earthaiza Watkins, 59.72 (advances); 6. Ke'Lah McMiller, 59.88 (advances); 10. Kesia Griffith, 1:00.75.
800: 10. Gabrielle Beckett, 2:24.60; 24. Brittany Bowery, 2:47.49.
5000: 1. Nicole McMillen, 17:36.92.
Distance medley relay: 1. Tusculum (Hulse, Griffith, Beckett, McMillen), 12:43.08 (Championship record/school record).
Pentathlon: 7. Destini Wilson, 2685 (school record).
Weight throw: 14. Alyssa Farmer, 12.23m (40-1 1/2).
Team standings (through 6 of 17 events): 1. Queens, 65; 2. Lenoir-Rhyne, 58; 3. Carson-Newman, 25; 4. Tusculum, 22; 5. Catawba, 19; 5. Anderson, 19; 7. Wingate, 16; 8. Newberry, 4; 8. Coker, 4; 10. Lincoln Memorial, 1.
60: 5. Widchard Guervil, 6.87 (advances); 10. Gerard Hearst, 6.97; 11. Thurlow Wilkins, 6.98; 18. Devan Hart, 7.09; 25. Giovanni Purser, 7.19.
60 hurdles: 10. Jamire Thompson, 8.55 (ties school record).
200: 1. Widchard Guervil, 22.24 (advances); 9. Jontavus Walker, 22.78; 26. David Saruni, 23.46; 27. Devan Hart, 23.58.
400: 8. David Saruni, 51.04 (advances); 12. Jontavus Walker, 51.46; 18. Isaac Hybarger, 53.01; 20. Tyree Hilliard, 53.81; 26. Jonathan Julien, 55.82.
800: 4. Antonio Aparicio, 1:57.32 (advances/school record); 18. Kyle Stanley, 2:03.88.
Mile: 10. Kyler Hodges, 4:27.12 (advances); 11. Taylor Tupps, 4:28.78.
5000: 3. Will Cronin, 15:04.79; 9. Carson Walls, 15:48.37.
Distance medley relay: 4. Tusculum (Hodges, Hybarger, Stanley, Tupps), 10:36.45 (school record).
Weight throw: 15. Evan Grooms, 12.77m (41-10 3/4) (school record).
Long jump: 15. Pierre Dupuy, 5.96m (19-6 3/4); 22. Jamire Thompson, 5.49m (18-1/4); 23. Giovanni Purser, 5.34m (17-6 1/4).
Team standings (through 5 of 17 events): 1. Queens, 57; 2. Wingate, 35; 2. Lenoir-Rhyne, 35; 4. Carson-Newman, 27; 5. Catawba, 17; 6. Tusculum, 11; 7. Anderson, 10; 8. Coker, 2; 9. Lincoln Memorial, 1.