May 19, 2014
HOUSTON, Texas - The East Carolina women's track and field team won its first-ever Conference USA Outdoor title after tallying 140 points at Holloway Field and Ley Track at Rice University. The Pirates finished with 52 more points than the second place finisher, UTEP, which had 88 points. The men's squad placed third with 124 points as they finished behind UTSA (172 points) and UTEP (136 points).
"The goal coming into the Conference USA Championships was to win two titles," Kraft said. "We did what we came here to do on the women's side and I am so proud of them. The men came up a little short, but were phenomenal. It was their highest ever finish in the outdoor championships."
The Pirates came away with nine event titles as the women claimed six and the men won three. Additionally, seven school records were set and East Carolina had 19 student-athletes earn All-Conference accolades.
"Anytime you come away with a trophy it's a great meet," Kraft said. "We set numerous school records and won individual titles on each side. You have to give credit to the student-athletes and the coaching staff. It was a total team effort."
The women's squad has now won both the 2014 Indoor and Outdoor Conference USA Championships. The Pirates have won three titles in the last three years as the 2012 women's squad claimed the indoor title.
"The women have been fortunate to win two indoor championships and now an outdoor title," Kraft said. "It's exciting to leave Conference USA with a trophy. Going into the American Athletic Conference, we are going to continue to expect the student-athletes to perform at a high level."
On the final day of competition, East Carolina won four events and set three school records.
The Pirates were led by Tania Minkins and Tyshonda Hawkins as the duo accounted for three of the four event victories. Minkins won the 100-meter dash with a school record and personal-best time of 11.46. Hawkins followed with a time of 11.51 for a second-place finish. The pair swapped places in the 200-meter dash as Hawkins won the event with a school record and career-best time of 23.29, while Minkins placed second with a time of 23.58.
Padgett earned the Women's High Point Performer of the Meet award after winning the hammer and discus throws, before placing third in the shot put.
"On the women's side, we sent a very clear message right from the beginning that we came here to win this thing," Kraft said. "They were not going to be denied. They were hungry. They were passionate. They had a plan and nothing was going to get in the way of the plan. They were both mentally and physically prepared. I am so proud of them."
On the men's side, Avion Jones won the high jump with a distance of 2.17-meters (7-01.50). He paced teammates Drew Kanz (2.08-meters) and Joey Muzzio (2.00-meters) who placed fifth and eighth, respectively.
"This was an absolutely memorable weekend," Kraft said. "It was one of the most memorable of my coaching career. I am so proud of our teams to come out and represent East Carolina University and the track and field program. We are very thankful for the athletics administration and our director of athletics, Jeff Compher, for their support and what they do for this program."
With the Conference USA Outdoor Championships behind them, East Carolina turns its focus on preparing for the NCAA Outdoor East Preliminary meet in Jacksonville, Fla., beginning Thursday, May 29 and concluding Saturday, May 31.
"Now we have to concentrate on the NCAA East Preliminaries," Kraft said. "We have a lot of momentum from winning the Conference USA title. We need to take that momentum with us to Jacksonville in two weeks."
Women's Team Rankings
1 East Carolina - 140 points
2 UTEP - 88 points
3 Rice - 74 points
4 FIU - 66.50 points
5 Tulsa - 60 points
5 Louisiana Tech - 60 points
7 UTSA - 56 points
8 UAB - 46 points
9 Tulane - 45 points
10 Middle Tennessee - 44.50 points
11 Charlotte - 43 points
12 North Texas - 35 points
13 Marshall - 28 points
14 Florida Atlantic - 18 points
15 Southern Miss - 12 points
Men's Team Rankings
1 UTSA - 172 points
2 UTEP - 136 points
3 East Carolina - 124 points
4 Louisiana Tech - 68 points
5 Tulsa - 62 points
6 Charlotte - 60 points
7 North Texas - 52 points
8 Middle Tennessee - 49 points
9 Rice - 47 points
10 Southern Miss - 30 points
11 FIU - 14 points
12 Tulane - 4 points