The Charlotte men’s and women’s programs both won gold, being crowned the 2019 Air Force Reserve Conference USA Track and Field Champions at the Irwin Belk Track and Field Center on Sunday, May 12. This is the first time since joining C-USA that both the men’s and women’s programs have won the Outdoor Conference Championship in the same season.
Charlotte’s men won in dominating fashion, scoring 155 total points, defeating the projected 2019 outdoor winner, Middle Tennessee (117), by 38 points. The men won back-to-back Conference USA Outdoor Track and Field Championships for a total of four C-USA titles, with two in the indoor (2001, 2018) and two in the outdoor (2018, 2019).
On the other hand, the women (103.5) claimed their championship by 1.5 points against the runner-up, UTEP. This marked the second-smallest margin of victory in the women’s C-USA Championship since 2004 (Houston defeated Tulsa by one point).
Head coach Bob Olesen led his programs to his 26th and 27th career championships. Olesen was also named the Coach of the Year for both the men and women, marking the 22nd and 23rd times in his tenure as head coach.
“For the men, we definitely had the expectation for them to win,” Olesen said. “We’re just such a balanced team. We came off the indoor season with a second-place finish to Middle Tennessee, who is a smaller, event-focused team. We have a larger roster to cover the number of events we have in the outdoor championship. It really played to our favor with our balance and our depth.”
Speaking on behalf of the women, Olesen said, “I was crunching the numbers and it became difficult because there is so much parity in the league. I had us third in the mid-80s point range. We scored 103.5 points, meaning our women definitely stepped it up to go from third to first.”
He added, “It was a tight weekend. There were ups and downs all over the place. We had a tough 4x100m women’s relay, taking several by surprise. But because there are so many events and a lot of moving parts, there’s always that chance that you know it will be close to keep putting it together. Particularly with the weather conditions this weekend, I kept pressing upon the teams to take advantage of the home field advantage. They did a great job; very resilient to put together their championships.”
Stevan Veselinovic was crowned the Individual Champion of the men’s hammer throw for the fourth consecutive season on Friday, throwing a season-best 65.95m (216’ 4”). Veselinovic threw 65.77m as a junior, 67.79m as a sophomore and 64.50m in his freshman campaign.
Robert Yardley concluded the men’s decathlon with a second-place overall finish, setting new personal bests in the 1,500m and javelin. Yardley blistered the field in the 1,500m, running a career-best time of 4:36.45, beating the second-place finisher by more than 11 seconds. He improved upon his 2018 C-USA Championship run by nearly 30 seconds. He also threw 53.52m (175’ 7”) in the javelin, setting a new personal record.
Freshman Riley Felts earned her first gold in the outdoor pole vault, clearing the height of 3.91m (12’ 10”), setting the new Charlotte program record, clipping her previous mark of 3.88m (12’ 8.75”). Felts also won the indoor pole vault championship this season.
Rachel Bartolomeo ran the third-fastest 3,000m steeplechase in Charlotte history at 10:17.51. Bartolomeo brought the field to the finish, while leading teammate Bridget Abbatiello (4th- 10:48.47) to the line. Abbatiello finished fourth overall, running the eighth-fastest time in school history. Taylor Brown also raced, while finishing with the 10th all-time 3,000m steeplechase mark.
Terrell Adams became a repeat winner of the men’s discus for the second-consecutive season. Adams earned the gold with a throw of 53.83m (176’ 7”), taking the top spot on the podium. Sasha Dajia (45.75m / 150’ 1”) and Asher Prince (45.31m / 148’ 8”) finished fourth and seventh, respectively.
Read more on the Charlotte 49ers website.