Sports: Swimming and diving teams win C-USA championships

track and field

Sports: Swimming and diving teams win C-USA championships

SMU swimming poolThe men’s and women’s swimming and diving teams each won their 5th consecutive Conference USA title at the University of Houston Feb. 27, 2010. For both teams it marked a 14th straight conference title, includling 9 Western Athletic Conference titles before joining C-USA in 2005.

The men totaled 871 points to beat second-place Hawaii by 38 points (833). The women scored 707 points to dominate second-place East Carolina by 96 (611). The Mustangs also made a clean sweep of the relays, winning all six on both the men’s and women’s sides. The teams compete next at the 2010 USA Swimming Austin Grand Prix March 4-6. Read more.

SMU basketball player Alice SeverinSenior post Alice Severin (right) has been named to the 2010 Conference USA All-Academic Team in women’s basketball, announced by the conference March 4. She holds a 3.71 G.P.A. in psychology and biology, the third-highest average of all players nominated. Severin is third in the conference, shooting 52.5-percent from the field, and ranks 4th in the league with 35 blocks. She is averaging 6.3 points per game and 5.1 rebounds per contest this season. The team plays in the second round of the 2010 GMC Sierra C-USA Championship March 9 in Tulsa. Read more.

The SMU Athletic Department, in conjunction with the SMU Lettermen’s Association, has announced the newest class of its Athletics Hall of Fame. The 2010 inductees are:

  • Kajsa Bergqvist (’99), world champion, indoor world record holder, and 2000 Olympic bronze medalist in the high jump.
  • Raymond Berry (’55), Pro Football Hall of Fame player who coached the New England Patriots to an AFC Championship and Super Bowl XX.
  • Michael Carter (’84), national high-school record holder in the 12-pound shot put and the only athlete in history to win an Olympic podium and a Super Bowl ring in the same year (1984), as silver medalist in the shot put and nose tackle for the NFL champion San Francisco 49ers.
  • Jerry Heidenreich (’72) a 23-time All-America swimmer and winner of two gold medals, one silver and one bronze at the 1972 Olympics.
  • Jon Koncak (’85), a 12-year NBA veteran who led the Mustang basketball team to two NCAA Tournaments and was a member of the gold medal-winning 1984 U.S. Olympic team.

The five will be honored at a dinner ceremony beginning at 7 p.m. May 7 at the Hilton Anatole Hotel in Dallas. Buy tickets online or call 214-768-4575. Read more.

March 4, 2010|Sports|

Research Spotlight: Breaking the human speed limit

SMU sprinter Ebony CuingtonJamaican sprinter Usain Bolt‘s record-setting performances have unleashed a wave of interest in the ultimate limits to human running speed. A new study published Jan. 21, 2010, in the Journal of Applied Physiology offers intriguing insights into the biology and perhaps even the future of human running speed.

The newly published evidence identifies the critical variable imposing the biological limit to running speed, and offers an enticing view of how the biological limits might be pushed back beyond the nearly 28 miles per hour speeds achieved by Bolt to speeds of perhaps 35 or even 40 miles per hour.

The new paper, “The biological limits to running speed are imposed from the ground up,” was authored by Peter Weyand of SMU; Rosalind Sandell and Danille Prime, both formerly of Rice University; and Matthew Bundle of the University of Wyoming.

“The prevailing view that speed is limited by the force with which the limbs can strike the running surface is an eminently reasonable one,” says Weyand, associate professor of applied physiology and biomechanics in the Annette Caldwell Simmons School of Education and Human Development.

“If one considers that elite sprinters can apply peak forces of 800 to 1,000 pounds with a single limb during each sprinting step, it’s easy to believe that runners are probably operating at or near the force limits of their muscles and limbs,” he says. “However, our new data clearly show that this is not the case. Despite how large the running forces can be, we found that the limbs are capable of applying much greater ground forces than those present during top-speed forward running.”

The researchers found that the critical biological limit is actually imposed by time – specifically, the very brief periods of time available to apply force to the ground while sprinting. In elite sprinters, foot-ground contact times are less than one-tenth of one second, and peak ground forces occur within less than one-twentieth of one second of the first instant of foot-ground contact.

The researchers used a high-speed treadmill capable of attaining speeds greater than 40 miles per hour and of acquiring precise measurements of the forces applied to the surface with each footfall. They also had subjects perform at high speeds in different gaits. In addition to completing traditional top-speed forward running tests, subjects hopped on one leg and ran backward to their fastest possible speeds on the treadmill.

The unconventional tests were selected to examine the prevailing belief that human running speed is limited by how forcefully a runner’s limbs can strike the ground. However, the researchers found that the ground forces applied while hopping on one leg at top speed exceeded those applied during top-speed forward running by 30 percent or more, and that the forces generated by the active muscles within the limb were roughly 1.5 to 2 times greater in the one-legged hopping gait.

The new work shows that running speed limits are set by the contractile speed limits of the muscle fibers themselves, with fiber contractile speeds setting the limit on how quickly the runner’s limb can apply force to the running surface, the researchers say.

Read more and review international press coverage at the SMU Research blog

(Above, sophomore sprinter Ebony Cuington of SMU’s track and field team.)

January 26, 2010|Research|

Research Spotlight: Prosthetic legs gave sprinter advantage

Peter Weyand and Oscar PistoriusThe artificial lower limbs of double-amputee Olympic hopeful Oscar Pistorius give him a clear and major advantage over his competition, taking 10 seconds or more off what his 400-meter race time would be if his prosthesis behaved like intact limbs.

That’s the conclusion – released to the public for the first time – of human performance experts Peter Weyand of SMU and Matthew Bundle of the University of Wyoming.

The Weyand-Bundle conclusion is part of a written point-counterpoint style debate published online Nov. 19 in the Journal of Applied Physiology. Weyand and Bundle were the first two authors of the study publishing the test results acquired as part of the legal appeal process undertaken after the governing body of track and field – the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) – banned Pistorius from able-bodied track competitions, including the Olympics.

In banning Pistorius, the IAAF had concluded on the basis of other data that Pistorius’ J-shaped artificial lower limbs, called “Cheetahs” by the manufacturer, gave him a competitive advantage over able-bodied competitors. But the ban subsequently was overturned on appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) in Lausanne, Switzerland.

The case has been considered groundbreaking for the eligibility of disabled athletes and the regulation of prosthetic technology in sport. Pistorius hopes to qualify for the 2012 Olympics.

The newly released conclusion from Weyand and Bundle analyzes the scientific evidence and quantifies the competitive advantage provided by Pistorius’ “Cheetah” limbs.

“Pistorius’ sprinting mechanics are anomalous, advantageous and directly attributable to how much lighter and springier his artificial limbs are. The blades enhance sprint running speeds by 15-30 percent,” says Weyand, associate professor of applied physiology and biomechanics in SMU’s Annette Caldwell Simmons School of Education and Human Development. Below the knee, Pistorius’ limbs weigh less than half as much as the limbs of an able-bodied male sprinter.

(Above, SMU Professor Peter Weyand and sprinter Oscar Pistorius during testing. Photo by Jeff Fitlow, Rice University.)

Read more from the SMU Research blog

December 1, 2009|Research|

Hot Links: Mustangs take 3rd at C-USA Outdoor Championships

SMU thrower Simone du ToitThe track and field team finished 3rd at the 2009 Conference USA Outdoor Track and Field Championships at the Hurricane Soccer and Track Stadium May 16. SMU finished the meet with 96 points, while Rice won with 131. Following the meet, first-year thrower Simone du Toit (right) was named Freshman of the Year. Read more.

First-year standout Marta Lesniak battled No. 4 seed and 2008 All-American Ani Mijacika of Clemson in the opening round of the 2009 NCAA Women’s Tennis Singles Championship, but fell in three sets (7-6, 4-6, 5-7) May 20 at the George P. Mitchell Tennis Center in College Station, Texas. Lesniak and her doubles partner, freshman Aleksandra Malyarschikova, begin play for the doubles title May 21. Read more.

SMU golfer Kate AckersonGolfer Kate Ackerson (’09, left) has been named to the ESPN The Magazine Academic All-District Team, as announced by the College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA). This marks the third straight season she has been so honored.

A four-time All-C-USA golfer, Ackerson was also a unanimous selection to the 2009 C-USA Women’s Golf All-Academic Team. Read more.

May 21, 2009|Sports|

Hot Links: C-USA Outdoor Championships begin May 14

SMU senior forward Mouhammad FayeThe track and field team will compete in the 2009 Conference USA Outdoor Track and Field Championship May 14-16 at the Hurricane Soccer and Track Stadium in Tulsa, Oklahoma. SMU enters the Championships with a national ranking of No. 23 from the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA)

Sophomore Silje Fjørtoft, the 2008 C-USA cross country champion, will defend her 3,000m steeplechase and 5,000m titles this weekend. Last season, she became the first C-USA distance runner to claim both titles in the same outdoor season. Senior Christina Mueller currently holds the league’s 3rd-best distance of 51.13m (167-09) in the discus. She won the 2008 title with a throw of 54.26m (178-00). Currently, first-year teammate Simone du Toit tops the C-USA with a throw of 57.35m (188.02) that ranks 2nd in the nation. Read more.

In men’s basketball, senior forward Mouhammad Faye (left) has been named to the 2009 Senegal national team. The team will compete in the Zone 2 qualifying event of the 2009 African Championships May 15-20 in Mali. If the Senegalese advance from the Zone 2 qualifier, they will compete in the 25th African Championships Aug. 5-15 in Libya. Read more.

May 14, 2009|Sports|
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