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Track & Field set school record with four titles at Conference USA Championship

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North Texas men’s track and field earned its most individual awards and highest placing as a team in the Conference USA Championship meet in program history over the weekend of Feb. 20-21. The Mean Green placed as a team at second place and earned four individual titles Sunday inside the Birmingham Crossplex.

Junior Antonio Delacruz became a two-time C-USA champion, the first North Texas track and field athlete ever to do so, with victories in the 60-meter dash (6.74 seconds) and 200-meter dash (21.22 seconds). 

Senior Joseph Squire improved his own North Texas record in the 60-meter hurdles to (7.93 seconds) in his title-clinching race. 

Junior Chris Samaniego’s sixth and final throw of 16.22 meters in the shot put moved him to the top spot to clinch his victory.

“It was an awesome day and I’m very proud of our teams,” said Carl Sheffield, director of track and field. “They were dialed in from the beginning and men’s confidence has been very high all season. There were only two senior men that competed for us this weekend, everyone else could potentially return for next year, as well as the upcoming outdoor season.”

Delacruz came into the weekend with a first-place title in the 200-meter dash at the Red Raider Invitational on Jan. 23 where he set a personal record of (21.21 seconds). He also left Lubbock victorious in the 60-meter dash recording a (6.74 seconds) time.

In the 60-meter dash preliminaries North Texas had four athletes qualify as Delacruz finished in first at (6.8 seconds), sophomore Karlington Anunagba at (6.81 seconds), sophomore Samir Williams (6.83 seconds) and sophomore Jared Johnson at (6.88 seconds).

Delacruz finished the official 60-meter dash in first place at (6.74 seconds), Williams in third place (6.81 seconds), Anunagba in fourth (6.88 seconds) and Johnson (6.91 seconds).

In the 200-meter preliminaries leading up to the final Delacruz finished first with a time of (21.42 seconds). Three additional North Texas sprinters qualified for the final event including junior Davyone Jones (21.53 seconds), Anunagba (21.82 seconds) and Williams (22.0 seconds).

Delacruz finished in first place in the official 200-meter dash at (21.22 seconds), Jones finished in second at (21.55 seconds) and Williams in seventh place at (22.44 seconds).

“Having a month off and getting in the winter storm a few days before the meet made the preparation tough, but I had a goal in mind of giving everything I have to win those two races,” Delacruz said. “The 60-meter race and the 200-meter race were 40 minutes apart and as soon as I finished one, I told myself ‘there’s no time to celebrate just yet.’ By the time the 200-meter race was over I wanted to leave everything I possibly could out there. The men’s sprint group this year was special as they worked hard, came into practice with a great mindset and we all feed off each other because of that.”

 In the 60-meter hurdle preliminaries, Squire qualified for the final event at second place with a time of (8.12 seconds). Freshman Jordan Coates-McBride finished at eighth place with a time of (8.29 seconds).  

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For the official event, he came in first place at (7.93 seconds), defeating junior University of Texas-El Paso’s Bashiru Abdullahi who won the preliminaries.

“Saturday I didn’t finish the way I would have liked after I clipped the hurdle,” Squire said. “[Sheffield] and I went over my mistakes and the next day I had a really good warmup. The final event I had confidence that I could finish in the top two and [Sheffield] reminded me to end the race clean and finish strong. No matter what happened I knew there would be a good result as long as I had a clean finish.”

Samaniego in the indoor season came away with a first-place title for his shot put performance at the Wildcat Invite hosted by Kansas State University. The following week in Houston he took first in the weight throw with a personal-best toss of 18.06 meters, later earning C-USA Field Athlete of the Week.

For the final event, he threw the shot put his furthest on the sixth attempt at 16.22 meters. Rice University freshman thrower Chris Rivera came in second place at 16.17 meters. North Texas junior thrower Kendall Maples placed third at 15.98 meters.

Samaniego also finished in third place in the weight throw at 18.25 meters. Samaniego says he attributes his win in the shotput after Maples gave him words of encouragement on his final throw to clinch the title.

“Before the last throw I took a deep breath and felt really confident by stepping into the ring and giving it all I had,” Samaniego said. “Going into competition things felt good at first and then I lost track so I talked with coaches to put things back together. A lot of it was mental and I knew towards the end I could overcome it and the last throw was relieving.”

North Texas closed out the indoor track & field events and turns the page as the outdoor season approaches.

“We will take a few weeks to train and prepare for the outdoor season,” Sheffield said. “I look forward to an impressive outdoor campaign.”

Courtesy Mean Green Athletics

Article Originally Published by Preston Rios on North Texas Daily

Source: North Texas Daily

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