Men's track team finishes third at league meet after collecting school-record number of points

Sophomore Larry Russell (center) stands on top of the podium after winning the long jump at the 2017 Conference Carolinas Track and Field Championships with a school-record leap of 7.56 meters, the eighth-best mark in NCAA Division II this season.
Sophomore Larry Russell (center) stands on top of the podium after winning the long jump at the 2017 Conference Carolinas Track and Field Championships with a school-record leap of 7.56 meters, the eighth-best mark in NCAA Division II this season.

by Benny Benton

CENTRAL, S.C. – Barton College finished third at the Conference Carolinas Track and Field Championships for the second straight season after collecting a school-record 110 points in the meet this weekend at Southern Wesleyan University.

The Bulldogs won three events, set six school records and made 11 total appearances on the podium for medals and all-conference recognition after top-three performances.

Sophomore Larry Russell posted two of Barton's two wins and also placed fifth in the 110-meter hurdles to earn a team-high 25 individual points.

Russell, a resident of Sicklerville, N.J., broke both school and conference meet records with his first-place efforts in the high jump and the long jump.

His mark of 7.56 meters in the long jump ranks eighth nationally in NCAA Division II, and may be strong enough to earn him an invitation to the outdoor national meet in Florida in late May. His high jump mark of 2.07 meters also improved his NCAA standing in that event, moving him up to a tie for 17th place in NCAA Division II.

Senior Semaj Street also recorded a national top-20 performance, earning NCAA provisional status in the 200-meter dash with a school-record mark of 21.18 seconds. The run was second-best in the conference behind Limestone College speedster Marquett Simmons Jr. and tied for 18th-best in the country.

In addition to the wins from Russell, Barton received an event victory from junior Joel Lagat in the 1500-meter run. The Eldoret, Kenya, resident led a field of 12 in the finals with a time of 4:09.65.

Lagat also earned a second-place finish in the 800-meter run with a mark of 1:57.41.

Additional runner-up finishes were posted by freshman Micah Clemons in the discus (42.13 meters) and both relay teams.

The 4x100-meter and 4x400-meter relay squads, both comprised of Collins Wilks, Aaron Jones, Nihgel Scott and Street, both set school records. The 4x1 mark was lowered to 41.22 seconds and 4x4 time was cut to 3:14.77.

The final BC standard to fall was the hammer throw. Clemons claimed the school record by breaking the 50-meter barrier with a toss of 50.47 that earned him third place in a field of 20.

Also producing third-place finishes were Street in the 100-meter dash (10.62 seconds) and Jones in the 400-meter run (48.17 seconds).

Others contributing to the team points with a top-eight finish were Russell Corbett in the shot put, Justin Alford in the pole vault and Scott in the 400 (five points each for fourth place), Raheme Dawkins in the javelin (two points for seventh) and Tevin Aitken in the 1500-meter run (one point for eighth).

The run of 4:21.97 by Aitken in the 1500 was a personal record. Others setting PRs were Hunter Hinson in the discus (25.02 meters) and javelin (42.20 meters), and Luar Mercado-Lopez in the 5000-meter run (20:18.75, outdoor benchmark PR)

Barton earned 25 more points this year than it did last season in placing third. The Bulldogs trailed only league champion University of Mount Olive (252 points) and Limestone College (146) in the meet. BC enjoyed a healthy advantage over fourth-place King University, which managed 71 points. Host Southern Wesleyan was fifth with 61.

The Bulldogs will continue to compete for NCAA marks over the next two weeks, beginning with the NC State Last Chance Meet on May 6 in Raleigh.