Men’s team claims indoor track and field title

By DANIEL HOOKER ’01

The Western Carolina men’s track and field team was crowned the 2011-12 Southern Conference Indoor champion in February, defeating rival Appalachian State by the narrowest of margins, a half of a point. The men scored 155 points, while the Mountaineers had 154.5. Samford also was in the mix as the top three teams were separated by only 7.5 points. On the women’s side, the Catamounts earned silver, finishing with 113 points to ASU’s 157.16.

The men’s championship came down to the last event of the night, the 4×400-meter relay. Being down by three points, the only way the Catamounts could win the championship was to win the relay. Western Carolina did just that in 3:15.08, with The Citadel finishing in second, three seconds behind the Catamounts. It was the second-fastest time of the year for WCU.

“That is the way a conference meet should be,” said Coach Danny Williamson ’84 MAEd ’86. “It was close and exciting until the end on both sides. For the men, it came down to the last event. We had to win the last event and we did. Our guys did a great job of never giving up. We made some mistakes along the way, but we didn’t give up. We came up with what we needed to win.”

Williamson also was selected as the SoCon’s Men’s Coach of the Year. It is the ninth time Williamson has received the honor, matching the same number that he has received it for his efforts with the WCU women’s team. Both men’s and women’s teams were ranked third in the SoCon Power Rankings that were released right before the indoor meet. Twenty of the 25 members of the women’s team who traveled to the championship meet were sophomores or freshmen.

“This made us feel really good because we weren’t predicted to win,” Williamson said. “We felt like we were counted out by a lot of people, but our teams didn’t listen to any of it. We came out and did what we needed to do to win. The individual award that I received is not just for me. It is for the assistant coaches and all of the members of our team. I wouldn’t have gotten it without their great support and effort.”