MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. — The High Point University men’s track & field team placed third at the Big South Outdoor Championship, the Panthers’ highest finish since 2003, on Saturday at Doug Shaw Stadium in Myrtle Beach, S.C. Junior Jacob Smith won both the 3,000-meter steeplechase and the 5,000-meter to pace HPU.
“I was pleased with our men’s team’s performance all the way from the 100-meter dash to the 10K,” said HPU head coach Mike Esposito. “Jacob Smith is having a really special season right now and we had nine different people score from the 1,500-meter to the 10K. Evan Emery has gotten a taste of being one of the top dogs, he handled it well in the 100 and didn’t handle it so well in the 200. Our hurdlers were solid.
“We had excellent performances all three days, including Tristan Faure in the decathlon and Christian Spaulding getting third in the javelin as a freshman today. Even the people who didn’t score performed well, like Steven Scally getting a career best in the discus. We have a relatively young team so we’re looking to carry this momentum forward with our program.”
Smith won the 5,000-meter in the last individual event of the championship. He stalked Liberty’s Caleb Edmonds for most of the race before surging in the last 600-meters, pulling away for an 11-second victory in 14:24.66. HPU sophomore Patrick Crawford ran strong the whole way and took third in 14:42.86 and freshman Jeff LaCoste moved up from eighth to fifth on the last lap, finishing in 14:47.81. He was edged by VMI’s Andrey Dmitriev at 14:47.78. Senior Jevin Monds placed 10th in 15:07.64. The 20 points in the 5,000-meter were key to High Point’s third-place finish.
Emery, a sophomore, was runner-up in the 100-meter dash to Charleston Southern All-American Javon Young. Young finished the sprint in 10.38 to Emery’s 10.54. Charleston Southern’s Rozzie Johnson placed third in 10.67. After the weather delay, Emery came back to place seventh in the 200-meter in 22.11 and he ran a leg of HPU’s sixth-place 4×400 relay. The relay team of freshman Chris Muggler, Faure, Emery and freshman Justin Doehr ran a time of 3:23.14.
Senior Jevin Monds placed third and LaCoste took seventh in the 1,500-meter. Monds was in third for most of the race and closed in a season-best 3:54.06. LaCoste finished in 3:58.04, holding off VMI’s Dean Gonsalves (3:58.20). Junior Dakota Peachee placed 11th in the 1,500-meter final in 4:03.06.
In HPU’s final field event, Spaulding popped out a huge career best to place third in the javelin. He threw it 64.45 meters (211-5) on his first attempt before competition was halted for the weather delay. That held up for six points. Earlier in the day, Scally threw the discus a career-best 42.99 meters (141-0) and placed 14th in the event.
Two Panther freshmen scored in the 400-meter and 800-meter. Doehr came in sixth in the 400-meter in 48.68 and Muggler took seventh in the 800-meter in 1:56.29.
The meet kicked off on Thursday with Faure in the decathlon and the Panthers getting 10 points in the 10,000-meter. Senior Neal Darmody led HPU with a fourth-place finish in 31:23.80 in the 10K. Faure ended up third in the decathlon on Friday, setting career bests in the 100-meter (11.14), high jump (1.92 meters, 6-3.5), 400-meter (50.56), 110 hurdles (15.43) and pole vault (3.65 meters, 11-11.75). His score of 6,633 was an HPU record.
Friday’s highlight was the steeplechase, where High Point scored 21 points. Smith won in 8:54.56, Crawford took third in 9:05.99, Peachee was fifth in 9:16.64 and freshman Chris Colo placed eighth in 9:36.08.
The Panthers totaled 98 points to place third, matching the program’s highest finish from 2001 and 2003. HPU’s point total was its highest since 2003. Liberty won its sixth Big South Outdoor Championship in a row with 213 points followed by Coastal Carolina (135) and High Point (98). Charleston Southern finished fourth with 78.5 points followed by VMI (78), Radford (57), Winthrop (55), Gardner-Webb (49.5), Campbell (31) and UNC Asheville (20).
The outdoor track & field season continues for the Panthers with the Duke Twilight meet on May 6. Emery and Smith are in great position to qualify for the first round of the NCAA Championship and several other Panthers could join them.