PITTSBURG, Kan. - For the first time in school history, the Butler men's track and field team took home the Region VI Indoor Championship. The Grizzlies scored 159 points to win the title, beating out Barton by just five points at Pittsburg State University's Robert W. Plaster Center.
Butler has finished runner-up as recently as 2011, but had never claimed the Region VI trophy during the indoor season until Saturday. The Grizzlies won nine total events over the two-day meet and set a pair of meet records in the process. Sophomore Eli Hall-Thompson and freshman Quintaveon Poole were named co-Male Track Athletes of the Meet, while freshman Landon Cuskelly was the Male Field Athlete.
Poole broke the 400-meter dash record with a time of 46.49 seconds, breaking the time of Johnson County's Wendell Gaskin, who ran a 46.95 in the 1993 meet. Less than an hour later, Hall-Thompson reset the 200-meter dash record when he crossed the finish line in 20.89 seconds, shattering Barton's Derrick Brew (21.18, 1998). Both Poole and Hall-Thompson moved into first place among NJCAA men in their events.
The Grizzlies came into the meet with the second-best times among KJCCC schools in both the 1,000-meter run and 4x400-meter relay, but came away winning both events.
In the 1,000m, sophomore Shevon Blair beat out Coffeyville's Marcus Smith by a half-second. Blair had a time of 2:34.51. The team of Antonio Coleman, Trevions Rouchon, James Hambrick and Poole then followed Blair's victory with a first-place finish in the 4x400-meter relay, winning the event with a time of a personal-best 3:13.52.
Butler lead Barton by 15 points heading into the triple jump finals, which was the last event to be completed. The Cougars had three competitors to Butler's two with a chance to still win the region title, but sophomore Mohammed Abubakar's 15.35-meter jump on his second-to-last attempt secured the Grizzlies the championship.
The Grizzlies then recorded their first top finish of the day, as freshman Jhibri Greer won the 60-meter hurdles, narrowly beating Barton's Jermaine Jones and Coffeyville's Darryl Brookins. Running in lane two with nine competitors, Greer managed to win the event at 8.15 seconds, while Jones and Brookins ran 8.18.
Butler didn't get off to a good start in the 60-meter dash, despite having three sprinters in the finals. Hall-Thompson was disqualified for a false start before the gun, leaving Poole and freshman Xavier Atkins in the field. Atkins cruised to a first-place finish with a time of 6.70, while Poole took fifth at 6.90.
Mwewa followed with a sixth-place finish in the 600-meter run (1:22.44), then sophomore Nolan Hesse placed seventh in the mile (4:29.87). Along with Poole's indoor record in the 400, teammates Coleman (48.33, 3rd) and Rouchon (48.38, 4th) helped the Grizzlies score a total of 21 points in the event.
Blair took third in the 800-meter run with a personal-best time of 1:54.88 and was just 0.36 seconds off from taking first. Freshman Colin Reichenberger and Keaton McGuire finished their final heptathlon event (1,000-meter run) and placed sixth and seventh, respectively. Reichenberger had a pair of third-place finishes in the 60-meter hurdles and pole vault to move up in the final standings.
Nolan Hesse then finished fourth in the 3,000-meter run (9:03.15), which then set the stage for Butler's victories in the 1,000m and 4x400 relay to finish out the running events.
Despite winning the region, Butler still finished second to Barton for the West division title. Scoring just West schools, the Cougars edged Butler by a 216-214 point margin. Cloud County was third with 111 points, while Hutchinson took fourth at 108.
Butler will send 18 male athletes to compete in the NJCAA National Indoor Championships, which will be held in Winston-Salem, N.C. The two-day event begins on Friday, March 4.