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Tuesday, October 03, 2023 — Houston, TX

Cougars outrun Owls to take C-USA Indoor title

By Jonathan Myers     3/11/10 6:00pm

From the moment the doors to the Yeoman Fieldhouse opened for the Conference USA Indoor Championships Feb. 26, the identity of the Houston school which would take home the gold was never a mystery. Unfortunately for Rice, that school was none other than the University of Houston, which collected an impressive 183.5 points on its way to its fourth-consecutive C-USA Indoor title. The Owls racked up 92 points, good enough for fourth place, something Head Coach Jon Warren (Jones '88) was not displeased with.

"I would love to be able to complain about how we did, but the reality is, we made some strategic redshirting decisions, primarily [redshirt freshman] Clayton Chaney, who, if he would have competed, would have helped us to finish second," Warren said. "There's no gray area with that outcome."

Despite Chaney's absence this season, the Owls still performed well in the field events, tallying 58 of their 92 points in the pole vault, high jump and heptathlon. Senior Jason Colwick had another outstanding performance, taking home his first gold in the C-USA Indoor Championships, while also setting a meet record with a vault of 5.36 meters on his first attempt.

Junior Garrett Stafford and freshman Alec Hsu cleared 4.76 meters to earn Rice additional points in the event, while senior Chris Kato and junior Shea Kearney each vaulted 4.61 meters.

Sophomore Jack Spinks continued his string of impressive performances as he finished first in the high jump and received the bronze medal in the heptathlon, garnering 4,703 points among the six events. Spinks alone accounted for more than one-sixth of the Owls' collective points.

Fellow scorers in the high jump were freshmen Ikechi Nnamani and Tyler Wiest, both of whom cleared 2.00 meters, but Nnamani was awarded the silver medal because he cleared the height on his first try.

Rounding out Rice's entrants in the heptathlon were second-place finisher junior Philip Adam and junior Connor Hayes, who took fourth with 4,595 points.

In the throwing events, junior Clay Baker had the best meet of his Rice career, setting a school record in the weight throw with a throw of 17.59 meters, good for sixth place. He also threw a season-best 16.03 meters in the shot put, taking sixth again.

Warren was pleased Baker rose to the occasion.

"Clay broke the school record in the weight throw and had a season best in the shot, so it was a good throwing experience for him," he said.

Junior Will Meyers followed Baker with a tenth-place finish in the shot put to close out Rice's performance in the throws. The triple jump also proved fruitful for the Owls, with juniors Ugo Nduaguba and John Berens jumping 14.95 and 14.38 meters, respectively, to earn seven points for the Owls.

In spite of the combined success the Owls enjoyed in the field events, the running events belonged to Houston, the University of Tulsa and the University of Texas-El Paso. Sophomore Dan Sloat provided six points for Rice in the 800-meter run with a time of 1:54.53. Freshmen Sammy Abuhamra and Mike Troop also contributed to Rice's silver-medal finish in the distance medley relay, with sophomore Collin Shurbet rounding out the other runners for Rice.

Warren was excited at the Owls' ability to battle back in the distance medley.

"The distance medley relay was light-years better than I expected," Warren said. "Tulsa thought they could just jog away with the victory, but Scott ran a great leg and was right on Tulsa's heels with 300 meters to go. Dan Sloat came back and got a surprising third in the 800, so that was great for him."

The other distance events yielded few points for the team, with Rice's top runner finishing ninth in both the mile and 3,000-meter runs. The Owls also took spots ten through thirteen in the 5,000-meter run.

"We owned ninth and tenth place in the distance. But that's an area we need to perform better in," Warren said. "For the long-distance guys, I probably should have entered some fresh legs in the 3,000 meter. A lot of those guys are really gearing up more for the outdoor events, like the steeplechase. But I still expected some scoring. The mile took a hit with two things: [senior] Simon [Bucknell]'s calf not healing, and Scott just giving his all the night before in the distance medley."

The indoor season has come to a close for all but one member of the team: Colwick will travel to Fayetteville, Ark. tomorrow for the NCAA National Indoor Championships to defend his crown in the pole vault.

Warren had a lighthearted take on what might be going through Colwick's mind before the meet.

"His major concern this semester, as the defending national champ, is his senior design project," Warren said. "I'm pretty sure when he goes up there, he's the only competitor with that type of project on his mind.

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