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Tuesday, March 28, 2023 — Houston, TX

Owls leap to second at C-USA Championships

By Brody Rollins     3/13/08 7:00pm

The men's track and field team has grown by leaps and bounds this year, mainly due to its impressive ability to leap and bound. The Owls flew into second place at the Conference USA Indoor Championships two weeks ago, helped by first-place finishes in both the heptathlon and pole vault. Freshman Shea Kearney cleared a mark of 16 feet, 11 inches, to grab first in the pole vault on his third and final jump of the afternoon.Unfortunately for the Owls, host University of Houston managed to make up those points in other events and notched 152 points to repeat as champions. Rice finished with 116.5, followed by the University of Memphis' 104. The University of Texas El-Paso and the University of Tulsa rounded out the top five with 100 and 88.5 points, respectively.

The majority of the team will now get a well-deserved break from the action. But time to rest was not granted to a few: Kearney and sophomore Jason Colwick were given one last chance to qualify for the NCAA Indoor Championships at last weekend's Arkansas Last Chance meet in Fayetteville, Ark. Fortunately, they made the most of that chance, as both of them tied the pole vault school record of 17-3 set by Paul Brattlof (Lovett '83). While their jumps were high enough to place in the top 20 nationally, the pair fell short in their bid to qualify for the NCAA Indoor Championships.

Kearney's success this season is especially remarkable, given that his previous best was a jump of 16-4, which he vaulted during his senior year of high school. What was even more impressive was that he finished an astounding six inches higher than the second-place finisher from the University of Houston.

"If I didn't make it, I lost, and we only scored two points out of the pole vault, [but] if I did make it, I won the title," Kearney said. "It was intense. When you get to conference nothing compares, because now you're an elite college athlete and what you did in high school means nothing."

In other jumping events, senior Omar Wright finished second in the high jump with a mark of 6-8. In the triple jump, freshman Ugo Nduaguba jumped 49-4 to take a second-place finish, 15 inches ahead of fifth-place senior Devon Fanfair.

Rice's success was not only limited to flying through the air, as sophomore Philip Adam continued his strong season with another first-place finish in the heptathlon. Adam finished with 5317 points, 19 points ahead of the second place finisher and 281 points ahead of third place. His total was also enough to break the school-record that he set at the Husky Invitational earlier this season. Although unable to qualify for the NCAA Indoor Championships held next weekend, Adam finished ranked 33rd overall in the heptathlon going into the outdoor season. In the seven events of the heptathlon, he won two of them, the shot put and the 1000, and finished second in two more, the 60 and the long jump.

The Owl sprinters also finished well yet again. Senior Bubba Heard led the way with a personal best time of 21.64 seconds in the 200, which was enough to garner him a fourth-place finish. He was followed in the same event by seniors Gary Anderson in fourth and Jon Turner in eighth.

Head coach Jon Warren (Jones '88) said he was impressed that the seniors placed as high as they did, especially considering the talent they had to face.

"It was stunning to have three finalists in the 200 in what is really a good sprint conference," Warren said.

Turner recorded another fourth-place finish in the 60, his 6.85 second mark .07 seconds ahead of Heard's sixth-place time.

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