The likelihood of the men’s track and field team earning a second straight conference title appeared to be fading.
In the days leading up to the 2015 SoCon Outdoor Championships, pre-meet rankings predicted perennial power Western Carolina would storm on to Samford’s campus and breeze to the team title by a healthy 61-point margin.
But, as they proved this weekend, numerical projections fail to consider one key ingredient to a team’s overall success: heart.
“That’s what we always talk about, just fight to the end and show your heart,” head track and field coach Rod Tiffin said. “We showed this team has heart.”
By relying on this unquantifiable characteristic, the men’s track and field team defied the odds and battled its way to a second consecutive conference championship, claiming the SoCon crown on home track by an unprecedented 41 points.
“They just weren’t going to be denied this weekend,” Tiffin said. “You could see it in them on their face from the moment we walked out here on this track that they were not going to be denied that championship.”
Clutch performances across the full spectrum of events propelled the men to the team title, as Bulldog athletes claimed 10 individual championships while sweeping post-meet honors.
Senior Sidney Jordan was named the meet’s Most Outstanding Athlete and Most Outstanding Field Performer after clinching the triple-crown in the men’s throwing events. Jordan collected a meet-high 30 points and captured first place finishes in the hammer throw, discus and shot put.
“Throughout the year, there’s going to be some hardships and some ups and downs, but when it counts you got to come through,” Jordan said. “It was a good day. It all came together.”
Junior Brandon Hazouri was named the meet’s Most Outstanding Track Performer for the second consecutive year, racking up 20 points and repeating as the conference champion in both the 800 and 1,500 meters.
“It’s nice to come out here and execute under the pressure and defend what we did last year,” Hazouri said.
Carson Howe was named Freshman of the Year after tallying a pair of runner-up finishes in the 200 and 400 meter dashes. Howe, who was also a part of the 4×100 and 4×400 meter relay teams, broke the 17-year-old school record in the 400 with a time of 47.87.
“For those guys to do all that they did, scoring twenty-plus points apiece and just dominating their event areas, you can’t ask for more than that from them,” Tiffin said.
Tiffin was once again named the SoCon men’s Coach of the Year.