Today: Feb 21, 2024

Track wins back to back NE-10 titles

Kevin CromptonSports Editor

The Southern men’s track and field team won its second consecutive NE-10 Championship on
Sunday Feb. 18 in Northampton, Mass. The 2018 championship victory marks the 13 th time in
program history that the Owls have claimed the NE-10 title. Southern concluded the meet with a
total of 189 points and had triple jumpers place first, second and third. Freshman jumper Michael
Agyeman took home the gold medal with a 14.64-meter leap. In second place Oghenefejiro
Onakpoma, also freshman, jumped 14.58-meters to claim silver; and senior Kahlil Smith’s
14.36-meter triple jump was good for third place in the event.

“Going one, two, three in the triple had to happened or we weren’t going to win,” said head
coach John Wallin. “That was an essential part of [winning the championship] and I’ll tell you a
guy who stepped up big was Kahlil Smith. [Smith] absolutely stomped out everybody to
guarantee a third-place position which was huge for our program.”

Junior Turner Kelly, who was named the NE-10 Championship’s Most Outstanding Male
Field Performer, launched the shot put 15.74 meters to secure the lead spot and a gold medal for
his collection. Other top-three performers consist of senior captain Yakabu Ibrahim, senior
captain Luke Velez, sophomore Ruvens Exantus, sophomore Phillip Quaye and sophomore Cole
Chapman. Ibrahim placed second in the 60-meter hurdles with a time of 8.08 seconds while
Exantus placed third in the same event with an 8.33 finish. Velez ran a speedy 200-meter dash in
22.23 seconds, and Quaye’s 4704 point heptathlon was good for the title while Chapman’s 4604
earned him third. Southern’s 4×400 relay team consisting of Exantus, sophomore Justin Kelly, and freshmen Nikolas Strickland and Nigel Green, was the only Owl relay to earn a top three
position, making it to the third spot on the podium with a time of 3:22.81.

“Everybody that scored a point mattered because it was such a close meet.” said Velez. “It
was just an awesome feeling winning.”

Wallin said the “significant number of freshman” that joined the team this season helped

“We had like 14 or 15 freshman score let alone maybe another five or six that competed that
didn’t score,” said Wallin. “We’re mostly freshman and sophomores. I think we lose four or five
seniors this year.”

Velez and Ibrahim commented on how as leaders, they inspire the freshman to be successful.

“Instilling the values of hard work, setting goals for yourself, and taking pride in everything
you do,” said Velez. “Setting [the freshmen] up the right has kind of been the Southern way. That’s how I came in, watching the seniors. They taught me to work hard and we’re a dominate
force in the conference.”

Ibrahim said he remembers being in the freshman’s shoes.

“I’ve been in their position since I got here. As a freshman, I was a New England champ, NE-
10 champ, so I kind of set the bar that the expectation is to win, it’s to always win. Even on your
bad day you’re supposed to win. If you set the bar it’s up to the other guys in the conference to
come and reach it because you’re going to have the target on your back because we’re
Southern,” said Ibrahim. “We’re supposed to win.”

Select qualifying Owls will compete in the NCAA Championship meet on March 9 and 10.
Ibrahim is the only Owl who has qualified thus far with others on the cusp. Agyeman,

Onakpoma, Kelly, junior pole vaulter Jack Brown and the 4×400 relay team will be looking to
qualify at the Brother Jasper Invitational and the BU Last Chance Meet.

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