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O’Connor Paces Cougars in Championships Final Day

Matt O'Connor, Lizzie Virgl
Matt O'Connor, Lizzie Virgl

Day One Results
Day Two Results

CHARLESTON, Ill. – Senior Matt O'Connor's win in the 800 meters led the SIUE track and field teams on the final day of the 2018 Ohio Valley Conference Indoor Championships at Eastern Illinois.  

"This weekend was full of great performances," Head Coach Scott Block said. "We had multiple individual champions and many on the podium."

O'Connor's time of 1:55.81 was bests in the men's 800m. He has been tops in the 800m for the OVC this entire season, turning in the OVC's fastest time (1:51.86) Feb. 9 at the Marshall Invite.

"Matt has been looking for that OVC title for a few years, so for him to finally get one was exciting for us," Block added.

Freshmen DeVonte Tincher had himself a fantastic weekend, placing top-5 in all four of his events. Tincher placed fourth in the long jump (23-2.75), fifth in the triple jump (45-5.25), fifth in the 60m with a PR of 6.92 and fifth in the 200m (22.56).

"DeVonte is an athlete with a lot of versatility," Assistant Coach Joey Pacione said. "It was really impressive to see him perform up to his capabilities in all four events. For anyone to do that, they have to be special. Hopefully this can be a stepping stone to more in the future."

The SIUE men's 4x400m relay team (Collin Brown, O'Connor, Dalton Oakes and Kevin Campbell) placed third in the event with a time of 3:26.60.

Day one of the championships, John Barnes hit a personal record (61 feet, 8.75 inches) in his first weight throw attempt and that throw ended up being the winning mark. Nick Matthews (61-3.25) placed second in the weight throw and Austin Lynch (57-8.50) finished fifth.  

"John surprised us all," Head Coach Scott Block said. "He picked up the weight throw for the first time this September and for him to win today is incredible. John, Nick and Austin all did so well today, I couldn't be happier."

Nichyria Byrd was champion in the women's long jump with a PR leap of 19-3.25. That mark is second best in SIUE school history. She also placed third (39-4) in the triple jump, taking home her second medal of the championships. Brittney Gibbs took home fourth in the triple jump with a mark of 39-1.

"Nichyria had a breakout meet," Pacione said. "To finish top-3 in both horizontal jumps is truly a special accomplishment."

In the women's weight throw, Lizzie Virgl earned second place while breaking the SIUE school record with a mark of 58-5.50.

"Lizzie waited until her final throw of her last indoor meet of her career to break the school record, better late than never," Block said. "I am extremely proud of her."

The Cougars had multiple PRs in the distance events. Landon Skelly hit a PR in the men's mile with a time of 4:19.80, Allie Sweatt in the women's 3k (10:31.90) and Keri Burmester (10:50.75) also in the women's 3k.

The women's DMR team (Aly GoffJalea PaslayKassidy Dexheimer and Haley Miller) placed fourth with a time of 12:23.03, earning points.

The SIUE men placed sixth in overall team score while the women finished eighth. 

The Cougars will be back in action when the outdoor season opens up March 9 at the Coastal Carolina Invitational in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.