The Long Beach State men’s track and field team have been crowned the Big West champions for the fifth time in seven years, becoming the winningest program in Big West Conference history with 11 championships.
The men reclaimed the titled from Fullerton with a score 169.5, beating them out by 18 points.
The women finished sixth overall in the conference with a total of 94 points, while Fullerton women won the event with a score of 129.5.
Throughout the weekend, the 49ers had many strong individual and group showings that led them to success, but none more than the throwers.
“There is only four throwing events in the championship,” head coach Andy Sythe said. “There’s five distance events, five jumping events and seven sprinting events. And just in those four events, our throwers scored more points than any other of our other event groups.”
In the four throwing events, the men placed three athletes in the javelin, discus and shot put and four athletes in the hammer throw to claim a total of 13 scoring positions. These performances totalled 57 points toward the men’s championship score.
The women also placed four athletes in the hammer throw, one in the javelin and one in shot put to total six scoring athletes for a total of 18 points.
Among the standout performers from this group was junior Charlie Vernoy, who took first in the discus throw with a mark of 177’ 4”. Senior Tavi Kamarullah placed second in the shot put with a personal best mark of 58’ 6.5” and senior De’ondra Young, who placed second in the women’s hammer throw, at a distance of 195’ 5”.
On the track, the 49ers were also able to put together solid individual performances and break records in the process.
This started with senior Kemonie Briggs, who became the first athlete in Big West history to win the long jump in four consecutive seasons. Briggs has won the Big West championship long jump event in each of his four seasons at Long Beach.
Briggs also finished in scoring positions for the 200m and 400m dashes as he totalled 23 individual points scored during the events, tied for most at the event.
Another significant performance from the 49ers came in the 3,000m steeplechase event.
Freshman Michael Simpson took first with a time of 8:52.25, which also broke the LBSU record by seven seconds. He also became the first LBSU athlete to take first in this event at the Big West championship since 1976.
“His performance was so inspiring and such a statement that it made my hairs stand up. I had chills from his race,” Sythe said. “[Simpson] destroyed the top two guys in the conference, and that was one of the most significant point swings in the meet for us because he was ranked third coming in, and Fullerton had the top two guys.”
Another surprise came from junior Raleigh Adams, who came off injuries to finish second in the 110m hurdles with a time of 13.83. A personal best for him and also good for the second best time in LBSU history. He also placed sixth in the 400m hurdles with a time of 53.43.
“This year coming back and working from injury he didn’t even train or compete in the 110m hurdles all year,” Sythe said. “He ended finishing second and ran lightening fast today.”
On the track, the strongest performer from the women came from a familiar face as senior Courtne’ Davis is walking away as the conference champion in both the 100m and 200m dashes. She accomplished this feat as a freshman and has now done it again as a senior.
Also no stranger to success is senior Bria Palmer, who took second in the women’s high jump.
From here, the 49ers will celebrate their success, but quickly snap back to reality as qualifying athletes will be preparing for the upcoming NCAA Preliminaries held in two weeks.
“A goal that is extremely important for us is getting to the NCAA postseason, and then doing well when we get there,” Sythe said.
But for now, the team and coaching staff are excited to have performed well at the championships and have so many athletes representing LBSU on the Big West podium.
“I’m proud to say this is the sixth Big West championship this athletic department has earned this year,” Sythe said.