HERMISTON, OR.– The Southern Oregon men’s Track and Field team are the Cascade Collegiate Conference (CCC) champions for the third time in four seasons.
Prior to last weekend’s CCC championships, SOU sprint coach Shannon Maas emphasized one particular message to the men’s team: “Every point counts. It doesn’t matter if you’re 1st or 8th, every single one of those points is gonna count.”
Those words proved to be true–down to the very last event. The 2016 conference championship wasn’t possible without a string of heroic performances, with runners exceeding expectations, or as head coach Grier Gatlin calls it, “nickel and dimin’ ‘em.” Grab a point here, grab a point there and it all adds up in the end, a crucial component to a championship track team. That unique ability to shine when it matters the most is ultimately what separated the Raider Men from their competition. The championship doesn’t happen without….
- It doesn’t happen without a freshman (Joe Dotson), competing in only his second decathlon, PR’ing in seven events to grab 2nd place at the CCC Multi-Event Championships.
- It doesn’t happen without a sprinter (Zach Beltz) making the transition to jumping, in his first season of collegiate competition, and then besting his personal record by 5 inches on the fourth and final attempt in the long jump.
- It doesn’t happen without a man (Cedric Quartey) who just picked up running two years ago.
- It doesn’t happen without a senior (Matt “Starchild” Williams), who in his last collegiate track meet ever, set two personal bests.
- It doesn’t happen without a record-breaking 4×100 performance from an unit who’s been mostly injured the entire season (Julius Shellmire, Zac Hannan, Hayden Saparto, Cameron Bremner).
- It doesn’t happen without those sprinters (plus a few more), doubling up on their duties to score points in the 100 and 200 meters.
- It doesn’t happen without gritty performances in the 5,000 meter race from a slew of Raiders (Jared Hixon, Dylan Alexander, Ryan Alexander, Connor Cushman).
- It doesn’t happen without three personal bests from three different Raiders in the 3,000 meter steeplechase (Eli Stillman, Donnie Coulson and Ben Stevens).
- It doesn’t happen without an All-Conference offensive lineman (Tylor King) scoring 13 points in the throws.
- It doesn’t happen without the two other throwers (Kevin Tunnell, Brian Sievers) combining for 14 points.
- It doesn’t happen without two hurdlers (Robert Bierly, Steven Miskimens), who were not predicted to score any points, coming away with 6 combined points.
- It doesn’t happen without one of the NAIA’s most talented distance runners (Jared Hixon) cementing his return to dominance.
- It doesn’t happen without a high jumper (Rohan Cain), who’s missed a lengthy period of time due to injury, capturing the title.
- It doesn’t happen without the freshman who started it all two weeks prior, Joe Dotson, coming through in the pole vault to seal the deal.
In the end, the SOU men outlasted Eastern Oregon by just two points.
Clearly, this title wasn’t just a few people carrying the team. This title was the epitome of teamwork.
After all, it comes back to Maas’ and Gatlin’s message.
“Every point counts.”