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Will Vese
UTSA track and field champs
(Photo by Jason Brown)

UTSA men defend SLC indoor championship

By Brian Hernandez
UTSA Associate Sports Information Director

(Feb. 19, 2007)--Behind individual titles from senior Larry Brooks (800 meters), sophomore Gaston Griffin (400 meters) and junior Will Vese (60-meter hurdles), the UTSA men's track & field team successfully defended its Southland Conference Indoor Championship on Saturday at Bill Yeoman Field House in Houston.

The Roadrunners scored 114.5 points, their second most at a conference indoor meet in school history, and easily outdistanced Texas-Arlington, which finished in second place with 98 points. Stephen F. Austin rounded out the top three with 82.5 points.

"To win it for a second year in a row is just amazing," head coach Aaron Fox said following the meet. "We lost most our team from a year ago and replaced those guys with a lot of talent, but you never know about freshmen in their first conference meet. They competed like champions and didn't let the pressure get to them. The upperclassmen provided them with outstanding leadership and that was key, but most importantly, our assistant coaches did a great job. Scott Slade was outstanding with our distance crew and David Burnett, who was thrown into the fire in January, kept the sprinters focused. This championship is a testament to the job they did this year. It was a total team effort."

Vese continued his stellar season in the 60-meter hurdles, easily winning the event in 7.93, nine-one-hundredths of a second ahead of second-place finisher John Thomas of Sam Houston State. The Houston native's first conference championship drew UTSA into a first-place tie with SFA (57.5 points) after 10 scored events and set the stage for the Roadrunners' march to the title.

"Will did what he was supposed to do in the hurdles and the fact that he was able to get us tied for the lead was the start," Fox said.

UTSA trailed UTA by a half point (67-66.5) entering the 400 meters and Griffin gave the Roadrunners the lead for good when he raced to a 48.51 in winning his first conference championship. The San Antonio native became the fifth Roadrunner in school history to win an SLC indoor 400m title, as he defeated defending champion Chris Edison of Sam Houston State by five-one-hundredths of a second.

Brooks won his first indoor SLC title and third conference crown overall in the 800 meters with a 1:51.63 clocking. He led five Roadrunners who combined to score 24 points in the event and that gave UTSA a 29.5-point cushion with just three events remaining.

"We knew we had a great chance to gain momentum in the 800 and we threw the hammer down," Fox said. "They disqualified a UTA runner for interference down the stretch with Bryan (Ugochukwu) and that enabled us to get two of the top three spots and five of the eight overall for 24 points."

The Roadrunners officially clinched the championship two events later in the 3,000 meters, the second-to-last event of the day, and then went on to place fourth in the 1,600-meter relay (3:19.41).

Junior Steven Brown led UTSA with 16 total points, as he finished third in the 60 and 200 meters and fifth in the long jump.

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