CEDAR FALLS — University of Northern Iowa track and field coach Dave Paulsen was doused with water as he celebrated a long-awaited Missouri Valley Conference indoor men’s track and field championship Sunday inside the UNI-Dome.
The Panthers finished with 143.5 points, using a mid-day surge to claim their first indoor title in 11 years.
In celebration, Paulsen was blindsided with a ceremonial dousing from the water bucket as his team danced around him after a convincing 31-point victory over their conference foes.
Illinois State and Southern Illinois finished in a tie for second place with 112 points.
The UNI women placed fifth with 71.5 points. Illinois State recorded a championship score of 190.16.
“I was not anticipating that water, but it sure felt good,” said Paulsen. “It is all about the kids though, they did it and deserve it with the hard work they have put in.
“I trust these kids to do what they have to and I am so proud of this coaching staff we have here. I think we scored in every event today, and that is a tribute to how hard they have worked. It has been a long time since we have won this thing and we did it at home.”
The Panthers’ last MVC indoor crown was back in 2009 when Travis Geopfert was at the helm.
A big turning point for the Panthers came from the field events, where they captured 27 points to regain the lead. It was a lead that never left their bench after that.
“We felt pretty good about our throws and knew we would get valuable points there along with the men’s 800 and 200,” added Paulsen. “It was a huge goal of ours to win this year because we have been so close lately.”
The Panthers finished second in 2019 and third during the 2018 campaign.
The turnaround came from the shot put as Darius King essentially secured his bid to make it to nationals later this month.
King had consistent throws in the prelims and recorded his championship mark of 19.09 meters in the event’s final round.
“I thought my last throw was actually my better throw, but I guess not,” said King. “I was pretty confident coming into this meet with my ability and the strength of my team behind me. We have really good throwers here.”
King’s roommate Tom Yezek finished second in the event.
“Tom works his butt off and he deserves what he can get,” King added.
Kyler Yodts (5th) 17.60, William Blaser (6th) 17.21 and Keegan Tritle (7th) 17.11 rounded out UNI’s shot put depth.
UNI senior mid-distance runner, Wal Khat finished just split-second behind Jack Anstey of Illinois State for the 800-meter title. Khat closed fast during the final turn and was within a step of edging out Anstey at the finish line.
Anstey broke the tape at 1:52.14, with Khat over the line in 1:52.21.
“Maybe I waited too much to move at the turn,” said Khat. “I thought I had him when I got shoulder-to-shoulder with him, but he gave one last push. I think I could have finished better, but it is still okay.”
With the Panthers back in the lead, junior sprinter Isaiah Trousil put some distance between first and second in the team standings with a championship run of 21.49 in the 200-meter dash. He finished .08 ahead of JoVaughn Moore of Indiana State.
Trousil crossed the line holding his finger up as the number one runner with Moore right on his tail.
“That was just having a little fun,” said Trousil. “He beat me in the 60 earlier today and held up his finger when he crossed, so I was just giving it back to him. It was all in fun, no hard feelings there.”
The first one to greet Trousil at the finish was his good friend and Waterloo native Tayshaun Cooper, who had won his heat the race before.
“Oh yeah, Cooper is my boy,” said Trousil. “We push each other to be great and we always try to finish one-up on each other. I had to win this to back it up you know.”
The Panther men capped their championship effort with a third-place finish in the 4x400.
The UNI women made some noise as well, especially in the throws. Senior Cedar Falls native Allison Griffin collected a bronze medal in the hammer.
“We talked before all this and we told each other that we need to make sure and always put ourselves in the best position to win,” said Griffin. “The throws are so competitive every year with so many young athletes coming in. The talent is so strong and you just never know who is going to show the best each meet.
“I wanted to stand on the podium today and that was my goal. I got to, but I may have left a little in the tank and I wish I would have done better.”
With the indoor season a wrap, the Panthers will now turn their attention to the opening of the outdoor season.
“We have to turn the page here pretty quick to get ready for the outdoor season,” said Paulsen. “But for right now we are going to let these kids enjoy the moment. Most of our kids are from right here in Iowa and they need to take the time to have fun with this. But not too much fun.”
MVC Indoor Championships
TEAM STANDINGS — 1. Illinois State 190.16, 2. Southern Illinois 125.0, 3. Missouri State 74.0, 4. Indiana State 72.33, 5. Northern Iowa 71.5, 6. Loyola 60.0, 7. Drake 35.0, 8. Evansville 15.0, 9. Bradley 13.0, 10. Valparaiso 6.0.
HIGH JUMP—1. Kameesha Smith (Ill.St) 1.73M, 2. Grace Daun (Ill.St) 1.70M, 3. Kelsey Bowlds (Ind.St) 1.70M.
TRIPLE JUMP—1. Trinity Daniels (So.Ill) 12.52M, 2. Jamilah James (MSU) 12.33M, 3. Charde Golliday (Ill.St) 12.16M.
SHOT PUT—1. Kayleigh Conlon (So.Ill) 15.21M, 2. Tayler Weaver (Ill.ST) 15.05M, 3. Allison Griffin (UNI) 14.89M.
MILE RUN—1. Rachel Hickey (Ill.St) 4:52.11, 2. Edna Dar (MSU) 4:52.34, 3. Anneka Murrin (LU) 4:53.64.
60 HURDLES—1. Allana Ince (Ind.St) 8.40, 2. Hannah Schau (UNI) 8.72, 3. Megan Hudson (UNI) 8.78.
400—1. Yinka Mary Ajayi (Drake) 54.39, 2. Tori Ortiz (Ill.St) 55.75, 3. Genesis Ewell (So.Ill) 56.38.
60—1. Ty’Juana Eason (So.Ill) 7.50, 2. Timeka Jordan (MSU) 7.65, 3. Malia Watkins (MSU) 7.69.
800—1. Hattie Plumb (Ill.St) 2:09.80, 2. Imani Davis (Ind.St) 2:10.81, 3. Audrey Harrod (Ill.St) 2:12.21
200—1. Eason (So.Ill) 24.33, 2. Watkins (MSU) 24.59, 3. Ortiz (Ill.St) 24.80.
3,000—1. Tarynn Cullings (LU) 9:47.68, 2. Mimi Reimers (LU) 9:50.99, 3. Anna Lowry (Evan) 9:51.07.
4x400—1. Southern Illinois (Savannah Long, Eason, Kira Williams, Ewell) 3:45.77, 2. Missouri State (Chanice Forbes, Jayda Buchanan, India McNeill, Watkins) 3:45.86, 3. Illinois State (Destiny White, Ortiz, Whitney ward, Plumb) 3:46.14.
1. Northern Iowa 143.5, 2. tie Illinois State, Southern Illinois 112.0, 4. Indiana State 107.5, 5. Loyola 78.0, 6. Drake 47.5, 7. Bradley 34.0, 8. Valparaiso 24.0, 9. Evansville 24.0, 10.
60 HURDLES—1. JT Lowder (Ill.St) 8.43, 2. Thai Thompson (UNI) 8.72, Caleb Miedema (Ill. St) 8.80.
POLE VAULT—1. Jordan Wilkerson (Ill.St) 4.51M, 2. Miedema (Ill.St) 4.21M, 3. Thompson (UNI) 4.11M.
1,000—1. Trevor Thompson (So.Ill) 2:51.47, 2. Zack Fortener (Val) 2:53.68, 3. Mitch Conrad (Ind.St) 2:55.32.
HIGH JUMP—1. Willie Rodgers (So.Ill) 2.10M, 2. Dawson Plab (So.Ill) 2.07M, 3. Cameron Cantrall (UNI) 2.04M.
TRIPLE JUMP—1. Rodgers (So.Ill) 15.43M, 2. Dearis Herron (Ind.St) 14.96M, 3. Cam Bauer (UNI) 14.76M.
SHOT PUT—1. Darius King (UNI) 19.09M, 2. Tom Yezek (UNI) 18.71M, 3. Clint Meyer (So. Ill) 18.57M.
MILE RUN—1. Alexander Bruno (Val) 4:20.78, 2. Adam Fogg (Drake) 4:21.22, 3. Kimathi Johnson (Ill.St) 4:21.30.
60 HURDLES—1. Matthew Lewis-Banks (Ind.St) 7.96, 2. Solomon Wilson (So.Ill) 8.06, 3. Brandon Ratliff (Ill.St) 8.11.
400—1. Johnny McGluen (So.Ill) 48.63, 2. Eran Siboni (LU) 48.91, 3. Emanuel Daggett (Val) 48.96.
60—1. JaVaughn Moore (Ind.St) 6.71, 2. Isaiah Trousil (UNI) 6.78, Tayshaun Cooper (UNI) 6.82.
800—1. Jack Anstey (Ill.St) 1:52.14, 2. Wal Khat (UNI) 1:52.21, 3. Demetri Panici (LU) 1:52.34.
200—1. Trousil (UNI) 21.49, 2. Moore (Ind.St) 21.57, 3. Cooper (UNI) 21.72.
3,000—1. Isaac Basten (Drake) 8:27.41, 2. Riley DeMeulenaere (LU) 8:29.22, 3. Kevin Koski (Ill.St) 8:30.82.
4x400—1. Loyola (Tim Harris, Michael Edwards, Vince DiVenere, Siboni) 3:17.93, Southern Illinois (Corey Sherrod, Jaden Johnson, Terry Simuel, McGluen) 3:19.33, 3. Northern Iowa (Cooper, Trousil, Seb Gearhart, Dan Blocker) 3:19.64.
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