CLEMSON, S.C. – Ashley Schnell became the first-ever women's runner in school history to win a Southern Conference title during the indoor season after claiming the 3,000 meter crown, while the women's distance medley relay team also came away with a SoCon title during the first day of the 2011 Southern Conference Indoor Track and Field Championships on Saturday.
Schnell, who won the women's SoCon cross country title in the fall, won the 3,000 meter championship by nearly a second. Schnell completed the race in a time of 9:52.39 to become the first women's runner at UNCG to win a SoCon indoor title.
"Ashley ran a great race in the 3,000 meters," said coach Linh Nguyen. "Going in, we had planned for her to lead as little as possible. We wanted her to win, but conserve as much energy as she could for the distance medley relay. Luckily, the girl from Charleston (Dena O'Brien) took the lead with 1000 meters to go. Ashley sat right behind her and then kicked past for the win in the last 50 meters. Tactically, it was as good a race as you can run."
Schnell was also part of the distance medley relay team that came away with top honors. Shaina Sumney ran the lead leg and was followed by Shannon Hall who had previously run in the 800 meters. Kerry Hartman picked up the third leg and Schnell ran the final leg for UNCG. The team's time of 11:55.95 was nearly 10 seconds faster than its nearest competition and was just three seconds of the Southern Conference record set in 2009.
"We felt strongly that we could win the DMR and had talked a little about the SoCon record in the event," said Nguyen. "We knew it would be hard with Shannon and Ashley doubling back from earlier races, but all four women ran great and we controlled the race from the start. Shaina put us in the lead, Shannon and Kerry kept us at the front, and Ashley finished it off. These women ran very well and I'm extremely proud of them."
In the lone men's event, Joey Thompson finished in 10th place in the 3,000 meters with a time of 8:36.63. Kenny Hinman finished in 19th place in the 3,000 meters to earn SoCon All-Freshman honors in the event.
"Joey ran a good race today, but he's still working his way back," said Nguyen. "He missed five weeks of training over the winter and that set him back. He went out and battled at the front, but just isn't as sharp at this point. He's healthy again now and training well, so he'll come along for the outdoor season.
"It was a great start to the meet and we hope to carry this momentum into tomorrow's events."
The Spartans will return to the track on Sunday as they will compete in the mile and 5,000 meters on the final day of the championships beginning at 9:15 a.m.
3000m: 10. Joey Thompson, 8:36.63; 19. Kenny Hinman, 9:30.07
800m: 16. Michelle Chewens, 2:24.11; 17. Shannon Hall, 2:26.66
3000m: 1. Ashley Schnell, 9:52.39; 13. Chelsea Sumney, 10:45.01
Distance Medley Relay: 1. UNCG (Shaina Sumney, Hall, Hartman, Schnell), 11:55.95
1. Appalachian State, 63 points
2. Georgia Southern, 41
3. College of Charleston, 28
4. Elon, 25
5. Western Carolina, 24
6. Samford, 21
7. UNCG, 20
8. The Citadel, 5
9. Furman, 4
10. Davidson, 3
1. Appalachian State, 85.3
2. Western Carolina, 47
3. Samford, 45.3
4. Davidson, 18.3
5. The Citadel, 17
6. Chattanooga, 16
7. Furman, 3
8. Wofford, 2
9. UNCG, 0
Kenny Hinman – 3,000 meters
- UNCG -