Track And Field To Host Conference USA Championship

Rhiannon Johns and the Blazers are set to host the Conference USA Indoor Track and Field Championship.

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Feb. 21, 2013

BIRMINGHAM, Ala.--The UAB track and field team is set to host the Conference USA Indoor Track and Field Championship on Saturday and Sunday, at the Birmingham CrossPlex.

"For many teams, the conference championship weekend is the most important meet of the season," head coach Kurt Thomas said. "For most of the athletes, it's the culmination of the entire indoor season and a chance to become a champion."

Last season, UAB also hosted the event at the CrossPlex, and finished in a tie for eighth place with 41 points. East Carolina won the championship with 123 points.

"This is always such a fun meet, and when the team is competing well and having fun, it usually leads to successes all the way around," Thomas continued. "C-USA is one of the best conferences in the country and if we come out and do our jobs, we can have a great weekend."

Sophomore Shelby Barker will be the Blazers lone competitor in the multi events, and is currently ranked fourth in the conference with her 3,314-point performance in the Samford Multi and Invite Pentathlon.

"Shelby Barker is adapting to the multi-events really well, and can lead us off with some important points in the Pentathlon on day one," Thomas added. "We have always relied on our multi events to start us off well, and it's Shelby's turn to do that again this year. "

In the distance races, redshirt senior Rhiannon Johns, juniors Elinor Kirk, Kate Brown and Anna Jarman, and sophomore Lauren Scott are set to compete in the 5K. Johns leads the Blazer squad with a best 5K time of 16:26.52, which was set at the Meyo Invite (Feb. 2).

"We are really excited to have our distance crew running so well," Thomas said. "They are a massive part of our success at this meet. We are looking for something special in the 5000m with Rhi, Eli, Kate, Anna and Lauren all hoping to not only score but also win the race."

Senior Sarah Hudak will compete in the 800m on day one. Hudak owns UAB's fastest time in the 800m this season with a 2:10.78 mark at Samford's Multi and Invite (Feb. 9).

"Sarah is stepping down to 800m and hoping to qualify for Sunday's final," Thomas continued. "Then we're also looking for huge points in the mile on day two, as well as the 3000m for more points from the distance girls. They've all been running so well, and Coach Houchin has them ready to do big things here this weekend."

On Sunday Kirk, Hudak and Johns will compete in the mile. Earlier this season, the trio had a one-two-three finish in the mile, with each time under the previous UAB school record. Kirk won the Blazer Invite (Jan. 11) mile race with a time of 4:50.87.

Brown will join Kirk, Hudak and Johns in the 3K, where Johns has recorded the fastest time this season with a 9:28.59 at the Panther Icebreaker (Dec. 1).

Juniors Kyana White and Angel Watson will compete in the 400m and 200m, respectively, while junior Kelli Smith is set for the long jump. This season, White ran her fastest 400m at Samford's Multi and Invite with a time of 56.28, while Watson ran a 200m in 24.30 at the same event. Smith's best distance this season was 5.76m(18-10.75), at the Panther Icebreaker.

"Kyana and Angel have great opportunities to make finals in very tough sprint races in the 400m and 200m," Thomas said. "It'll be tough, but we can scrounge for more points there. Kelli is positioned well to make finals in the long jump and score more points. She's been just off of some big jumps, and there's no better time to come up big than the C-USA meet."

The Blazers will also compete in the 4x400m and the distance medley relay. UAB has not competed in the DMR yet this season.