TULSA, Okla. – Every. Point. Matters.
The South Dakota Coyotes and North Dakota State Bison can firmly attest to this notion, as each team battled it out down the stretch and, eventually, ended up becoming the first Outdoor Track & Field Women's Co-Champions in Summit League history Saturday afternoon at the ONEOK Sports Complex.
This is the first outdoor league title for the USD women, while NDSU has garnered at least a share of the league title for the last 11 years.
At the end of 21 scored events, both the Bison and 'Yotes were deadlocked at 263 team points. Oral Roberts rallied on championship day for 116 points, with South Dakota State scoring 111 points and Western Illinois posting 30. Omaha (22) and Fort Wayne (12) finished out the scoring.
On the men's side, the Bison were the outright outdoor league champs for the fourth-straight season, while also staking claim to at least a share of the last nine team titles. North Dakota State pulled away with 259 points and South Dakota State scored the runner-up trophy for the second season in-a-row with 215.5 points. South Dakota (201.5), Oral Roberts (97) and Western Illinois (31) placed third through fifth, respectively.
HOW THE WOMEN'S TIE HAPPENED
It literally came down to the final, and arguably the most exciting, event of the day: the 4x400-meter relay. Down 257-253 on the team leaderboard, the Bison hustled their way for the event victory and a must-have 10 points. The Coyotes, however, managed to pull in ahead of SDSU for third place and a crucial six points. Adding up those points to the existing team scores, USD and NDSU found themselves in a tie for the championship.
OUTSTANDING PERFORMERS OF THE CHAMPIONSHIP
As voted on by the league's head coaches following the meet, two student-athletes were named the Summit League's Most Outstanding Performers of the Championship: South Dakota's Shanice Cannigan and Joe Reagan.
Cannigan received the honor based on her overall performance on the track and in the field. Cannigan won the 100mH (13.43) for the third-straight season, picked up gold in the 400mH (1:01.65), ran a leg of the third-place USD 4x4 squad, placed fourth in the high jump and tallied a single point in the long jump for 27.5 total points—the most points accumulated by any male or female student-athlete this week.
For the 'Yote men, Reagan brought in 25 points thanks to a win in the 200m, a second-place mark in the long jump, a fourth-place time in the 100m and two points as a member of the 4x1 team.
Six student-athletes were recognized at the conclusion of the meet based on their individual point totals accumulated throughout the events this week.
Highlighting the action was ORU's Aniekeme Etim, who became the first Summit Leaguer in outdoor history to take home both the Newcomer of the Championship and Track Championship MVP honors. Etim secured gold in the 100m (11.25w) and 200m (23.54w) events today, while also picking up 2.5 points in the 4x100m relay and another 2 points in the 4x400m relay.
Etim's teammate Mercy Abire shared the Field Championship MVP with NDSU's Maddy Nilles, both of whom raked in 20 points. Abire generated her points in the long and triple jump events, becoming the first Golden Eagle to win two jumps events at the outdoor league championship since 2006. Nilles competed in a plethora of throws events, mustering an additional three points in the shot this morning to go along with five points in the discus, eight points in the hammer and four more points in the javelin.
On the men's side, SDSU's Bryant Courter—the Co-Field Championship MVP a year ago—was the sole recipient in 2018 thanks to victories in the long and triple jump events. The latter came this afternoon, when Courter logged a 51' 11.25" (15.83m) mark for the gold. He also added 3.5 points in the high jump yesterday.
Fellow Jackrabbit Kyle Burdick was awarded the Track Championship MVP honor for the second-consecutive outdoor season for his 24 points this week. Burdick was able to lock up bronze in the 800m finals Saturday (1:55.13) to go along with a repeat championship performance in the 1500m (3:48.55). With gold, Burdick became the first Jackrabbit in outdoor league history and the first league competitor since 2011-12 to repeat as the 1500m champ.
Finally, Daniel Clarke earned Newcomer of the Championship status with his true-freshman-leading 15.5 points for SDSU. Clarke ran a leg of the victorious SDSU 4x1 relay team while also finishing fourth in the long jump and third in the 100m.
COACHES OF THE YEAR
South Dakota's Lucky Huber (women) and North Dakota State's Don Larson (men) were determined Coaches of the Year as voted on by the league's head coaches. This is the first such honor for Huber, while Larson has won the last nine men's COTY titles.
OTHER EVENT CHAMPIONS SATURDAY
- Women's Shot Put – NDSU's Courtney Pasiowitz
- Set the new Bison school record with her 54' 3.25" (16.54m) throw
- Men's Pole Vault – USD's Chris Nilsen (19' 0.25," 5.80m)
- The top American vaulter this season broke the outdoor league record
- Successfully repeats as the outdoor league champion
- Men's Shot Put – NDSU's Payton Otterdahl (68' 9.25," 20.96m)
- Sets a new league championship record by over four feet
- Increases his lead atop the NCAA Shot Put Performance list this season
- Women's 4x100m – Oral Roberts (Abire, Hilliard, Burnett, Etim)
- Men's 4x100m – SDSU (Hilton, Larson, Clarke, Zenner)
- The squad's 40.40 time was a new school and outdoor league record
- Bested the old league record—set by USD last season—by 0.01 of a second
- Women's 1500m – USD's Lindsay Joyce
- With her victorious 4:30.17 time, Joyce became the first Coyote to win the #SummitOTF title in the women's 1500m run
- Men's 110mH – ORU's Israel Nelson (13.89)
- Women's 400m Dash – NDSU's Alexis Woods
- Successfully defends her 2017 title today with a 54.86 time
- Men's 400m Dash – ORU's Emmanuel Mwewa (47.85)
- Men's 100 Dash – USD's Gawain Williams (10.26)
- First sprinter to win four-straight 100m titles at league championships
- Fourth outdoor competitor to win four-career league titles in a single event category
- Women's 800m – SDSU's Krista Steele (2:09.59)
- Men's 800m – SDSU's Wyatt Gatrost and USD's Eldon Warner (1:54.713)
- Men's 400mH – USD's Jay Cooper (52.78)
- Three-time defending champion in the 400mH—first Summit Leaguer to accomplish such a feat since 2000
- Women's 5000m – USD's Megan Billington (17:08.16)
- Men's 5000m – NSDU's Jake Leingang (14:56.90)
- Women's 4x400m – North Dakota State (3:42.73)
- Men's 4x400m – Oral Roberts (3:12.99)