HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - The final day of Southern Miss track and field did not end the way the Golden Eagles had hoped, but just reaching this point of the season illustrates how successful a season it was.
The men's 4x100 meter relay team finished in sixth place at the NCAA track and field outdoor championship on a rainy Friday evening in Eugene, Oregon. The foursome of McKinely West, Chedlin Sagesse, Cra'vorkian Carson and Alexander Richemond crossed the finish line at 39.49 seconds – all four earned first-team All-American honors.
John Warren placed 15th in the men's triple jump with a best-mark of 15.86 meters.
Following his run in the 4x100m, West placed sixth in the 100m with a time of 10.36 seconds and eighth in the 200m with a time of 20.84 seconds.
Following the end of the regular season, West ranked 28th (100m) and 37th (200m) in his respective events. The junior went on to become just one of two athletes to make the finals of both the 100m and 200m.
"[West]'s just a competitor," said USM head coach Jon Stuart "He gets in the blocks and he's ready to go every time. He doesn't have any bad races…He's not scared about the competition or the rankings of the other runners. He just gets in there and competes."
"It was great," McKinely said. "I come from JUCO so I don't race a lot of the best. It's kind of the same, just everybody [is] faster now. It feels great. [I] try to stay humble coming from a small school. [It's a] great feeling. I missed indoor so I had to make up for it with outdoor."
West finished the weekend as a three-time All-American, adding to his 200-meter gold medal at the Conference USA outdoor championships earlier this year.
West's rapid rise in just his first season at Southern Miss shows coach Stuart's impact as a coach and is a direct result of a sprinter's hard work who flew under the radar for much of his racing life.
The five-foot-seven speedster transferred to USM after spending two years at Barton Community College in Great Bend, Kansas – racing alongside future Golden Eagle teammate Chedlin Sagesse. Barton is where Tyson Gay spent two years before eventually becoming the American record-holder in the 100 meters (9.69 seconds).
It was during Stuart's time as an assistant coach at the University of Georgia when he discovered West, a Camilla, Georgia native.
"I signed a kid in [class] 1A that I thought was going to be really good," Stuart said. "I go to the state meet and McKinely beats him. That's where I kind of discovered him…We went up and signed him early last year. Right after we signed him, then he had just an incredible sophomore year at Barton Community College. Everyone that tried to get him after that, it was too late. We had him signed."
Four years into the Stuart era, the Golden Eagles are finally seeing the results of solid recruiting classes and hard work. Named the Conference USA women's coach of the year, Stuart and company captured the school's first C-USA women's outdoor title while the men placed second.
"It's good to see all the hard work we put in for the previous three plus years kind of pay off here at the end," Stuart said. "We could see it coming…When I first started, you could almost say I could dream it. You just have to have the patience to see it through. That's one of the things that I credit the staff with. We've been very patient with this group and done it the right way. You just can't turn it around in one year, sometimes it takes a few years. The sense of satisfaction is definitely there."