By Jim O'Hara
ROME--After competing every weekend for the past month, the Shorter track team takes a break from action this Friday and Saturday – sort of.
Fresh from hosting the inaugural Peach Belt Conference Championships at Barron Stadium a week ago, one that saw the Lady Hawks record a third-place finish and the Hawks taking fourth place, Shorter steps aside to serve as the host of the inaugural Southern States Athletic Conference Championships at Barron’s John Maddox Track and the Riverside Parkway Throw Center.
“We’re honored that the Southern States Athletic Conference has asked Shorter to host their first-ever championship meet,” Shorter Director of Track Scott Byrd said about two-day event that will include seven teams from the NAIA-affiliated SSAC, the conference Shorter was a member of before the university began its transition to become an NCAA Division II member.
“Shorter had a long history with the SSAC,” the coach said, “and we look forward proving that we can host top-quality meets here in Rome.”
The meet will be the third major track event hosted by Shorter at Barron this year – the second annual Rome-Shorter Relays being held last month and last week’s Peach Belt championships that drew rave reviews.
Shorter is also waiting to see if its bid to host the National Christian College Athletic Association National Championships is accepted, a meet that would bring more than 900 athletes for a three-day run.
Making their way to Rome for the SSAC gathering this weekend includes the men’s and women’s teams from Brewton-Parker, Emmanuel, Lee, Loyola, Spring Hill and William Carey, and the Brenau women’s team.
The meet begins Friday with the field events leading off at 2 p.m. when the finals for the men’s and women’s discus and javelin are held at the Throw Center and the men’s and women’s pole vault and long jump take place at Barron.
Friday’s round of running events starts at 4 p.m. at Barron with the preliminaries in the men’s 110 hurdles, women’s 100 hurdles, and men’s and women’s 100 and 200 taking place, along with the finals for the in men’s and women’s 4x800 and 10k.
The meet resumes Saturday at 11 a.m. as the finals for the men’s and women’s hammer and shot in the spotlight at the Throw Center and the men’s and women’s high jump and triple jump taking place at Barron where the remaining running finals will get the starter’s gun – the men’s and women’s 3K steeplechase, 4x100, 1500, 400, 100, 800, 400 hurdles, 200, 5K, 4x400, and the women’s 100 hurdles and men’s 110 hurdles,
At the Peach Belt Championships last week, the Hawks and Lady Hawks made an impressive debut in the conference meet that was won by the men’s and women’s teams from Alabama-Huntsville, like Shorter is a member of the Gulf South Conference but since the GSC does not compete in track is an associate member of the PBC.
Highlighting Shorter’s performance were Lakeisha Spikes, who was named the GSC’s co-Female Athlete of the Year, and Micah Reed, selected as the conference’s Male Freshman of the Year.
Spikes cemented her status as the fastest woman in the Peach Belt as she won the 100 in 12.28 seconds running into a stiff headwind and after she set an NCAA provisional time in the 100 preliminaries and faced a stiff headwind in the finals. The junior from Vero Beach, Fla., then won the 200 in a time of 24.80 and ran two relays for Shorter, finishing third in the 4x100 and second in the 4x400.
Reed finished third in the 100m dash and sixth in the 200 for nine points for the Hawks. His 200m time of 21.74 seconds was the fourth-fastest run in the league this year, less than three-tenths of a second from the NCAA provisional mark.
The Hawks and Lady Hawks return to the track May second when they head to Joliet, Ill., to compete in the NCCAA National Championships.