Triple Crown Winners

May 11, 2023

UIW Men’s Track and Field Completes SLC Triple Crown

Men's track and field team with the trophy

On a hot and muggy Saturday night at the beginning of May, the UIW men’s track and field team accomplished a feat that had not been achieved in more than 35 years. The Cardinals won the 2023 Southland Conference Men’s Outdoor Track and Field Championships, claiming the SLC Triple Crown in the process. The Triple Crown consists of championships in cross country, as well as both indoor and outdoor track and field.

According to the Southland Conference, this was the fifth Triple Crown in men’s history and the 12th Triple Crown overall.  UIW won by a landslide, amassing an astounding 25.5 points more than second-place Northwestern State.

UIW Head Coach Derek Riedel shared that this achievement was not a surprise for the team. After all, the Cardinals won both the indoor and outdoor titles in the winter and spring of 2022.

“We felt good about the group we had coming back and the newcomers joining the team to fill some of the remaining gaps,” said Riedel. “I believe this championship demonstrates the true strength of the program and our ability to persevere and capitalize on our depth and well-roundedness to stay strong throughout the entire school year.”

Cross country, which features student-athletes who also participate on the track and field team, won its first Southland Conference title in October 2022, setting the stage early for a Triple Crown. Griffin Neal, a junior Business Management major, was named the Southland Conference Student-Athlete of the Year after the meet.

The team followed up that result with an incredible performance at the 2023 Southland Men’s Indoor Track and Field Championship. UIW’s Isaiah Hudgens was named the Most Valuable Performer of the meet as the Cardinals won by nearly 40 points.

“Coming off successful indoor and outdoor seasons in the winter and spring of 2022, the 2022 cross country conference championship [in the fall] gave us confidence that the Triple Crown was possible,” shared Neal. “After winning indoor, it was only a matter of staying healthy and taking care of ourselves. It was important that we weren't complacent with our last four team wins and we had to focus on earning the title just as much as the last seasons."

Riedel also commented on the resiliency of the team, noting that it’s a big challenge to win one championship, let alone three in a year.

“This is the most resilient team we’ve ever had,” he said. “You have to have the entire team ready to be their absolute best on one weekend to win a championship. It’s even harder to do it three times in one school year. That’s why it rarely happens, especially in such a strong conference like the Southland. There is a reason it hasn’t been done in 38 years and has only been done four other times (by one school) in the 60-year history of the conference.”

At the end of the year, the group did what they set out to do: complete the Triple Crown. The Cardinals snagged two gold, four silver and six bronze medals over the three-day outdoor championship competition. Riedel noted that, above all, consistency and preparation were the keys to their success.

“We stayed the course,” he added. “There are many ups and downs throughout a season – particularly one as unique as an outdoor season spanning three months. We decided to focus on the positives from week to week and keep a long-term perspective. We knew that in the end the team would be where it needed to be."

Men's track and field student-athletes with head coach holding the trophy