Jags's Vaikla named Sun Belt newcomer of year; 10 Jags receive all-conference recognition
NEW ORLEANS - University of South Alabama freshman Hanna-Mai Vaikla was voted Sun Belt Outdoor Track & Field Newcomer of the Year as announced Tuesday by the league office; she and nine other Jaguar student-athletes also received all-conference accolades. The three all-conference teams consist of the top three finishers in each event at the Sun Belt Outdoor Championships that were held May 11-13.
Vaikla won all but one of the five javelin events she entered this season. Her first-place, 46.61m (152-11.00) throw at the conference championships, which garnered her first-team all-Sun Belt recognition, ranked fifth all-time at USA. She had a personal-best long jump effort of 5.77m (18-11.00) to finish sixth in a field of 27 at the same meet. Vaikla ran the 100m hurdles in 15.11 seconds at the Jaguar Classic and recorded a 1.53m (5-00.00) high jump mark at the Southern Miss Open, her only entry in the event this season.
Emilie Berge took first place in the heptathlon with 5,632 points at the conference championships. The point total broke both the Sun Belt and USA records and tied for 21st on this season's NCAA Division I performance list.
Michaela Preachuk won the hammer event with a 60.83m (199-06.75) throw to claim first-team recognition, her second all-Sun Belt honor in three years. Her 61.58m (202-00.25) effort at the Mt. SAC Relays set a new school record and was the longest throw in the conference this season.
Sean Collins picked up first-team all-conference accolades and his third Sun Belt pole vault title in as many seasons after a 5.37m (17-07.25) mark at the league championships.
Taylor Dames was named second-team all-Sun Belt with a runner-up, 1.77m (5-9.50) high jump finish. Her season-best effort came at the South Alabama Jaguar Classic, where she had a 1.79m (5.10.50) jump that tied for second on the program's all-time list and second on this season's conference performance list.
Olivia Swan ran the second-fastest 400m hurdles race in South Alabama history, a 59.48-second time which is among the top 50 marks in the NCAA East Region, to take second-team all-Sun Belt honors.
Autavia Fluker ranks second in the school record books after a 15.38m (50-05.50) shot put throw at the Sun Belt Championships. The mark earned her second-team all-conference honors.
Michaela Obijiaku was named third-team all-Sun Belt in the shot put with a 15.35m (50-04.50) effort that ranks third on the all-time Jaguar performance list.
Jessica Matthews received all-Sun Belt recognition in the javelin throw for the second time in her career. She finished third with a personal-best 44.49m (145-11.50) throw that moved her to sixth in the all-time Jaguar record books.
Carolien Millenaar earned third-team all-conference honors with an 11:01.22 finish in the 3,000m steeplechase. The freshman set a new school record - 10:56.51 - in the event at the War Eagle Invitational earlier this season.