Feb. 26, 2011
BOISE, Idaho - Louisiana Tech's Chelsea Hayes stole the show once again at the WAC Indoor Championships, this time winning three gold medals and propelling the Lady Techsters to an improbable sixth Western Athletic Conference title in the last seven years.
The men's team also impressed as their third place finish scoring 94 points is the program's best finish since 2006. In all, both the men's and women's programs tallied 10 gold medals and 33 all-conference honors.
The women's team, beset by illness, injury and a disqualification, trailed Utah State by three points entering the 4x400m relay - the meet's final event. After already having won three events, Hayes was called upon to run the third leg of the relay and took the baton with Tech trailing Boise State. Within the first 100 meters of her leg, Hayes took the lead and held on. Monique Wright closed out the relay and held on to clinch the team championship.
The other lynchpin was Boise holding on to a second place finish in the relay, preventing Utah State from scoring enough points to win. Had Utah State finished second, the Aggies would have topped Tech by one point. Instead, the Lady Techsters held on for the 133-132 win.
"This may be the sweetest win ever," said head coach Gary Stanley, the 2011 WAC Coach of the Year. "We thought after the first one when we were so far down our first couple years in the WAC was special but I think all the other coaches here realized we were a 20-30 point underdog coming in. To be able to come out and do what these women did today was so special, one for the ages. Everybody just stepped up, exceeded what they've done and kept believing and came together. I was very, very happy for all of them."
Hayes, named the WAC Track Athlete of the Year and WAC High Point Scorer of the Year, scored 32.5 points and won four gold medals in an impressive string of performances. Hayes tied her own conference record in the 60m dash finals, ran the fourth-fastest time in the 200m dash finals and took the lead for Tech as the relay team ran a season-best time of 3:43.64.
"I'm tired but it all paid off," Hayes said afterwards. "We got another title. I couldn't ask for anything more, to win in my senior year. [In the 4x400m relay,] I was just nervous and I felt like it was all on me. I was winded because I ran the 200m before had to do the mile relay and put just everything into it. He [Coach Stanley] just told us we had to win. When I was close to her [Boise's runner], I decided to make a move in the beginning, got out in front and held it."
Hayes entered the 4x400m relay having already matched her own conference record of 7.34 to win the 60m dash and ran 23.93 to win the 200m dash.
"I felt great about that race [the 200m]. I wasn't as tired as I was yesterday because I only had the 60m and that race [at that time], I just ran out and did what I wanted to do. I had a bad start in the 60m. My start was horrible but I still ended up running what I ran yesterday."
Senior Billy Ray Walker led the men's team, winning his second consecutive 60m hurdles with a time of 7.97. True freshmen Kendall Hayes (8.22) and Dravius Jones (8.30) finished fourth and fifth, respectively.
"The guy next to me came in with the fastest time this year and he had a good start," Walker said. "But I'm a senior and it was my last time running the 60m hurdles so I had to compete. I had to give it my all. Just like coach said, it is about places here, not about times. I didn't run the time I wanted to run, but I gave my team 10points. I can't be selfish with that and I can't complain about that because there are people who wish they could do what I just did and it was a blessing."
Tech freshman Trey Hadnot finished second in the 200m with a time of 21.53, a personal record time for the Ruston native while Kevin Stewart (fifth), Josh Goree (sixth) and Dennis Richardson (seventh) also ran in the finals. On the women's side of the 200m, Stacia Hanneman finished second (24.42), Wright finished fourth (24.69) and Jesseka Jones finished sixth (25.01).
The women's 60m hurdles featured the closest finish of any event over the weekend with the race being decided by two-thousandths of a second. Louisiana Tech freshman Kim Francis won with a time of 8.401, beating out Tech senior Tiana Davis who ran 8.403. Francis also placed in the 60m dash, finishing fourth with a time of 7.70 while senior Chasidee Lewis-Baker finished second in the 60m dash, running 7.50. This marks the first year that Lewis-Baker did not win the WAC 60m title.
Quatisha Williams led the Tech in the field events as she won the triple jump with a mark of 40-1.25, the fifth-best mark in school history. Brittany Guy finished third with a personal record jump of 39-10.75 while Markeva Daye placed sixth, jumping 37-6.5.
Larry Jones again led the Tech throwers, finishing third in the weight throw with a personal-best throw of 58-5.25 Marcella LeBlanc scored five points for the women's team as she placed fourth with a mark of 45-5.75, a personal-best mark by almost three feet.
For complete coverage of Tech Track and Field, please visit the official home of Louisiana Tech Athletics at LATechSports.com.