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May 20, 2014 8:07 am

Mountain West Champ!

Written by Dante Geoffrey

Wyoming junior and Powell native Kyle Sullivan (front) competes in the 1,500-meter run, the final event of the two-day decathlon, Thursday at the Mountain West Conference 2014 Outdoor Track and Field Championships. Sullivan won the decathlon with 6,776 points. Wyoming junior and Powell native Kyle Sullivan (front) competes in the 1,500-meter run, the final event of the two-day decathlon, Thursday at the Mountain West Conference 2014 Outdoor Track and Field Championships. Sullivan won the decathlon with 6,776 points. Photo courtesy Wyoming Athletics Media Relations

Powell’s Sullivan wins conference decathlon title  

LARAMIE — Powell native and UW junior Kyle Sullivan won the decathlon and the University of Wyoming track and field teams had a historic 2014 Mountain West Outdoor Championships last week in Laramie.

The Cowgirls tallied 94 points for their highest finish since 2005 and most points since 2004, while the Cowboys earned 110 points for their highest finish since 2010 and second-most points ever at the MW outdoor meet.

Sullivan wasn’t flashy during the decathlon but his consistency proved more than enough.

Sullivan tallied 6,776 points through 10 events at the Louis S. Madrid Sports Complex to become the first Cowboy to win the event at the conference meet since 1999.

“Kyle realized an opportunity was in front of him and you could see he wasn’t going to let that pass him up, especially in front of his home crowd,” UW assistant coach Shaun Meinecke said. “Conference isn’t about setting personal bests, but he did in the hurdles and the pole vault and was close in the discus and javelin. He competed with confidence today and knew that he could do well. I hope he enjoys this to the fullest because being a conference champion is a difficult task and being a conference champion on your home track is a once-in-a-lifetime experience.”

Sullivan entered Thursday’s action third overall, but quickly jumped to first with a personal-best 14.81 in the 110-meter hurdles to win the event. He slipped to second after finishing third in the discus with a throw of 115 feet, 7 inches, but jumped right back into the lead by clearing a personal-best 13 feet, 5 and one-fourth inches in the pole vault. He held the top spot through the javelin with a throw of 149 feet, 8 inches for third and cruised home in 4:47 in the 1,500 meters for fourth in the race.

Sullivan set two personal-bests on Wednesday, as well. He ran a 11.23 in the 100-meter dash and cleared 6 feet, 5 and one-half inches in the high jump.

Sullivan is the third Cowboy to win the decathlon in Wyoming history, joining Gregg Sawyer in 1999 and Jay Novacek in 1984.

The Cowboys got two more individual titles Friday. Senior Mason Finley surprised no one by winning the discus and Garrett Zans took a title in the steeplechase.

Finley notched a throw of 202 feet, 11 inches in the discus for the second-best mark in MW Championship history. It was the second time a Cowboy won the event in the last three seasons. Junior Paul Thomas was right behind him with a throw of 179 feet, 9 inches to give Wyoming 18 team points in the event en route to 52 total points.

Zans started the day strong for the Pokes with a time of 8:56.61 in the steeplechase to become the second Cowboy ever to win the event at a conference meet. Sophomore Tyler Anderson and junior Aaron Derner added three team points apiece with sixth-place finishes. Anderson threw 194-10 in the hammer and Derner finished the 10,000 meters in 30:01.47.

The meet’s final day yielded four more UW titles.

Sophomore Kereston Thomas was part of two MW titles on Saturday. She paced the 100-meter field in a school-record 11.57, while combining with Jenna Mann, Taylor Gardner and Audrey West to win the 4x100-meter relay in 45.32 for the second-fastest time in Cowgirl history. Gardner had a victory of her own by running 58.52 in the 400-meter hurdles, UW’s second championship in the event in the last four seasons. Senior Mason Finley was UW’s other victory on Saturday with a facility-record throw of 60 feet, 11 and one-quarter inches in the shot put to rank fifth in Cowboy history. Wyoming’s seven total titles this year are the most it has ever captured at one conference meet, indoors or outdoors.

“This meet really showed how far our program has come,” UW head coach Bryan Berryhill said. “From where both teams finished last time we hosted in 2009 to see the heart and pride that our teams showed today is impressive. Both our men and women were right in the mix today and, if one or two things go differently, they both have very special days. The women were a half-point away from tying their best finish ever at the outdoor meet.”

Thomas is the first Cowgirl ever to win the 100 meters at the conference meet and is the first Cowgirl with two victories at one conference meet since Shauna Smith in 2005. Thomas also finished runner-up in the 200 meters on Saturday in 23.97. Finley is the first Cowboy to accomplish two conference titles at one meet since Jeremiah James in 2010.

“We knew coming in that we had a small group of key competitors that had to be big for us and they were,” Berryhill said. “Those seven titles were huge for us, but our job as a coaching staff now is to go out and get more kids in here that can fill in those holes so we can move up the standings even more.”

The Cowgirls hung around third for most of the day and were in line to tie their best finish ever, but were nipped by half a point in the final team totals by Colorado State. Sophomore McKenzie Brogan was third in the 400 meters in a personal-best 55.64 for ninth in UW history, while freshman Kerry White ran a personal-best 2:10.00 for fourth in the 800 meters and third in school history.

The Cowboys started the day in second and were in third until nearly the last event as well. Graduate student Harry Fisher was second in the 800 meters, as he ran 1:49.86 and lost by just two thousandths of a second. Freshman Jordan Charles was second in the 110-meter hurdles in a personal-best 14.11 to stay sixth in school history in the event. Charles was sixth in the 100 meters in a personal-best 10.67 to move to ninth in UW history. Senior Garrett Zans led a trio of Cowboys to score in the 5,000 meters in a personal-best 14:06.26 for fourth. His time ranks seventh in Wyoming history, while sophomore Amos Bowen notched a PR of 14:07.20 for eighth in UW history and fifth in the race. Junior Aaron Derner ran a career-best 14:15.62 for seventh in the race. Sophomore Scott Carter finished third in the triple jump at 50 feet, 2 and one-half inches.

Wyoming now waits to see which student-athletes qualify for the NCAA West Preliminaries on May 29-30 in Fayetteville, Ark. The field for that event will be announced Thursday.

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