Sophomore sets school and personal marks on successive days
New Orleans – University of New Orleans high hurdler Michael Nicholls is both “Southland Strong” and “Southland Perfect.”
Two years, four total conference titles, 8 races. Sunday, at the 2017 Southland Conference Outdoor Track and Field Championship at Tad Gormley Stadium, Nicholls ran away from the field in winning the 110-meter high hurdles event for the second consecutive year.
The sophomore has won Southland Conference hurdles titles indoors and outdoors in 2016 and 2017, a combined 8 races over two years and he has finished first in each.
Nicholls won his latest crown in impressive fashion. His 13.76 clocking was a personal and school best, breaking the personal and school marks he set during Saturday’s trials with a 13.82 clocking,
“I’ve been running 14’s and 14.1’s most of the year and the coaches have been telling me the times will come down, said Nicholls. “They were right and we put everything together this weekend with the 13.8 Saturday and the 13.76 today.”
Nicholls thinks back at winning the title last year as a freshman and he says there’s no comparison between last year’s champ and this year’s.
“Physically it’s a big difference because I’m working harder in the gym. But I had some ups and down during the year and they (the coaches) challenged me to get better mentally. Luckily I had a lot of people behind me and I depended on my religion to help me get through it.”
The man from Barbados now looks toward regional competition in a couple weeks with the goal for this season reaching the NCAA Outdoor Championships in June in Eugene, Oregon.
Freshmen student-athletes supplied the rest of the scoring for the Privateers during the SLC Championship. Emma Hickman finished eighth in the hammer throw securing one point for the UNO women. Hickman, from Talent, Oregon, turned in an effort of 154 feet.
Saturday, during the second day of competition, freshman Nicholas Mitchell finished second in the shot put. His toss of 56’-6.75” was good enough for eight points and exceeded his personal best while setting a new school mark.
Stephen F. Austin won the women’s team title over Sam Houston State by a mere 1.5 point margin, 166 to 164.50. It was the eighth outdoor conference title for the Ladyjacks. On the men’s side, Sam Houston State was the winner by 10 points over Stephen F. Austin. It was the third title for the Bearkats and the first since 2006.
The University of New Orleans served as host school for this year’s Southland Conference Championship. It was the first time UNO has hosted a conference championship since joining the Southland Conference in 2013.