UT Arlington has a chance to pull off the rare “triple crown” this weekend when its men’s track team tries to win the Sun Belt Conference meet in San Marcos.
UTA won the cross country conference championship in November, took the indoor championship home in March, and a win this weekend would give the UTA men its first conference championship trifecta in school history.
Paced by a roster filled with first-class sprinters, the Mavericks men’s team is built on straight-line speed. Two of the top three times in the 100-meter dash are owned by Mavericks, one of whom is Clayton Vaughn, the fastest short-distance runner in the conference.
“He looks like he’s been shot of a rocket launcher,” coach John Sauerhage said. “He’s never looked as good as he does, so some school records might be broken this weekend.”
Vaughn owns the fastest 100-meter and 200-meter dash time in the Sun Belt. His 10.13-second 100-meter dash at the Bobcat Classic two weeks ago is the fifth-best time in NCAA track this year.
But right on UTA’s tail is Western Kentucky, which boasts a trio of sprinters that could give UTA a run for the title. The Mavericks will need good performances out of Quentin Butler and Cameron Newson to hold off WKU, their stiffest competition this weekend.
“We’re pretty identical in how our rosters are constructed with sprinters and a long-distance mix, so it’ll be up to our guys to rise to the challenge,” Sauerhage said.
UTA needs more than the sprint team to win a complete team championship, which is why it hopes to get strong performances out of its long distance runners and Ivan Storic, the Sun Belt’s leading javelin thrower.
The top three times in the 5,000-meter run wear UTA blue and Eric Ojeda has the best 10,000-meter time by 26 seconds.
The women’s team has a focus on the medium-range races, where its strength lies in the work of Ashly Wright’s 800-meter run and Ashley Burris’ 400-meter hurdles prowess.
“We’ll need to run well and get some clutch performances out of them,” Sauerhage said. “If we can do that, I really do think we can get a top-3 finish.”
After the conference championships, the attention will turn to the NCAA regional rounds where athletes turn their attention to individual competition.