SHAWNEE – The OBU men's track and field team claimed its first Great American Conference outdoor championship Saturday on its home turf. The Bison scored 201 total points to overtake defending champion Southern Arkansas for the league crown. OBU's three-day total was its best team score since officially joining the league in 2017.
In a closely-contested race, the OBU women came up just shy of repeating as the conference champion as Harding took the team title with a 213 total. The Lady Bison finished with 201 overall points.
Hayden Ashley was the men's Most Valuable Athlete, adding to his decathlon crown with a first-place finish in Saturday's long jump finals with a leap of 7.26m – second-best in GAC meet history.
The Bison won the men's 4x100 relay with a time of 41.44, and the men's 4x400 relay team hit an NCAA Division II provisional qualifying mark with a 3:12.81, finishing second to Southern Arkansas, who set a GAC meet record with a time of 3:12.44.
Nathaniel Worley took the conference high jump crown with a DII provisional mark of 2.04m, while Spencer Lashley took gold in the pole vault with a best of 4.50m.
OBU's Brandon Crowley won the men's 110 hurdles with a time of 14.22. Blake Rayner earned the conference title in the men's 800, and Nathan Crowson was the men's champion in the 1500 at 3:58.80.
Head coach Ford Mastin was honored by his peers as the league's Men's Coach of the Year.
The Lady Bison were led by co-Most Valuable Athlete Cameka Witter. The sophomore from Kingston, Jamaica, claimed event titles in the women's 400 and 800, and paced OBU's conference champion 4x400 relay team. The Lady Bison's time of 3:47.19 met the DII provisional mark, and was just 0.06 seconds off their conference record set at last year's championship meet.
Leah Molter continued her strong meet by repeating as conference champion in the women's 100m hurdles, breaking her own GAC Championship record with a 13.86. Kaylee Large Crowson pulled off the difficult double by winning the women's 5,000 for the second time in three years with a time of 18:10.78, just a day after claiming the conference crown in the 10,000.
OBU's Tesa Potter won gold in women's 1500 with a time of 4:39.83, while Payton Worley finished second in the women's pole vault after the top three competitors tied the GAC meet record of 3.35m. Julianna Horner won silver in the women's shot put with a throw of 12.91m.
Following the meet, five members of the OBU program were named Distinguished Scholar Athletes by the conference. Ashley, Crowson, Andrew Worley, JoziRose Mayfield and Raigan Servati were among those honored for maintaining a cumulative GPA of 3.7 or higher while completing at least 70 hours towards their degree.
Both teams will head next to the famed Drake Relays, April 25-27 in Des Moines, Iowa.