Birmingham, AL – For the first time since 2001, the Austin Peay State University (APSU) track and field team is the class of the league.
A huge second day of competition and a clutch 4x400m relay allowed the Govs to overtake rival Murray State and win an Ohio Valley Conference Indoor Track and Field title in head coach Valerie Brown‘s first season at the helm.
It’s the second OVC Indoor title in program history and came in a comprehensive team-wide effort. It wasn’t just the sprinters or the pole vaulters or the jumpers—every Gov played a role.
The Govs held off the Racers by the slimmest of margins, taking the title with 111.50 points; Murray State finished one point behind at 110.50. Southeast Missouri (89 points), Belmont (81.50) and Eastern Illinois (78.50) rounded out the top-five.
The APSU Govs added 49 points just in the individual races, collecting four golds, a silver and a bronze in the running finals. Freshman Kenisha Phillips broke the four-year old school 200m record with a 23.93 mark, the first sub-24 second indoor run in Austin Peay history and a blistering race that saw her win by nearly a half-second. She also earned silver in the 60m dash, posting a 7.54 mark to fend off Tennessee Tech’s Ceirra Tate for second.
Sabrina Richman, who picked up two points with a seventh-place showing in the 200m dash, also won her second straight 400m dash gold, pairing her 2019 Outdoor win with a personal-best 55.22 showing that also gives her the fourth-fastest indoor 400m run in program history.
Junior Lennex Walker helped Austin Peay State University gain a point in the 60m dash with a 7.78 mark, finishing eighth, but her time to shine was in the hurdles, which she won with an 8.62 mark, five-hundredths of a second clear of Tennessee State’s Grenetria Shell.
In the 800m, sophomore Mikaela Smith secured Austin Peay State University’s first medal since Jessica Gray earned silver at the 2015 Indoor Championships. Her 2:15.46 mark shaved another two-tenths of a second off her personal best and left her less than three-tenths of a second behind Eastern Kentucky’s Ashley Barr, who took silver.
The Govs came up clutch time after time down the stretch. Maya Perry-Grimes backed up her long jump gold from Wednesday with a triple jump title Thursday, hitting 11.76m to take the top spot; Walker was right behind her at 11.68m to take silver. Jessica Kelley picked up a point with an eighth-place finish—a point that loomed large as the Govs closed the gap late in the meet.
Heading into the final event, Austin Peay trailed the Racers by nine points. The 4x400m relay was a battle between Austin Peay State University and Murray State, the top two seeds in the event and the only two who could stil win the whole thing. In a winner-take-all affair, Austin Peay State University’s quartet of Johnson, Phillips, Richman and Kyra Wilder took the gold and the title with a 3:46.86 mark, the third fastest in program history and a run that will go down in history as the one that clinched a title for the APSU Govs.