After being topped by Liberty the last three winters, the Coastal Carolina women’s indoor track and field team regained the upper hand in the long-standing rivalry Friday with a first-place finish at the Big South Conference championships.
And there wasn’t much doubt about it this time.
The Chanticleers totaled 182 points over the two-day event at the JDL Fast Track in Winston-Salem, N.C., to well surpass Liberty’s 142 and claim their first Big South indoor team championship since 2009.
“I’m just really, really, really proud of them,” CCU coach Alan Connie said. “All I can say is they really stepped up in a championship mode and kept pouring it on. There was great team camaraderie, and to win one of these things – 17 events – it took a total team effort. We scored in every event, and that’s the mark of a really balanced championship team.”
The star of the ensemble was senior Erica Peake, who was named Most Outstanding Track Performer at the meet. She took first-place in the 60-meter dash, while setting a new Big South championship meet record time of 7.39 seconds (matching her overall conference record set two weeks ago). She claimed another meet record in the 200 meters, winning in a time of 24.07. She anchored Coastal’s winning 4x400-meter relay, which broke another meet record (3:47.78). And that was all on top of the long jump championship (19 feet, 2.75 inches) she won Thursday.
“She did the same thing outdoors where she won five gold medals, three individual and two relay,” Connie said. “She’s the best kind of leader. She leads by example. She doesn’t talk a lot. She just goes out and has a great work ethic and has a passion to be the very best.”
In other honors, Coastal’s Jessica Gelibert was named the conference’s Freshman of the Year, winning the 400 meters in 56.66, and Connie earned women’s Coach of the Year honors.
Sophomore Qwontajah Thompson was second in the 400 and third in the 200 and also contributed to that 4x400-meter relay, along with Gelibert and sophomore Camille Hurley. And senior Mary Lawrence contributed another championship in the pole vault (11 feet, nine inches), winning the event on Thursday.
All in all, the result was exactly what the Chants had been working toward all season – or for several seasons, for that matter.
“It’s particularly sweet since Liberty had edged us out three years in a row,” Connie said.
Big South Standings
1. Coastal Carolina – 182
2. Liberty – 142
3. Charleston Southern – 74
4. Gardner-Webb – 57
5. Campbell – 50
6. High Point – 41
7. UNC Asheville – 38
8. Radford – 28
9. VMI – 25
9. Winthrop – 25
Contact RYAN YOUNG at 626-0318, or follow him on Twitter at Twitter.com/RyanYoungTSN.