NAMPA, Ida. – In preparation for the NAIA Indoor Track & Field Championship Meet, Azusa Pacific annually schedules one regular-season meet that truly is staged inside a facility that hopefully will best simulate what the Cougars eventually experience at the championship meet. The rest of their indoor season leading up to the championships is typically held in ideal weather conditions of Southern California.
The 2008 indoor simulation crashed.
Instead of running races at Boise State’s United Heritage Invitational, many Cougars were left behind, stranded 12 hours in a Los Angeles airport. Heavy snow dumped on the Pacific Northwest cancelled numerous flights, and as a result, only half of the Azusa Pacific men’s and women’s competitors made it on time to Nampa, Ida., for the meet. All Cougars eventually arrived, but many of them never got to compete and those who did ran in events set up for the high school portion of the meet.
“I have to give credit to our athletes,” said Azusa Pacific women’s coach Mike Barnett. “No one complained at the airport. No one whined. They all had a great attitude. They passed a huge test this weekend. It wasn’t the one we thought they’d be taking, but it was one that really challenged them. We did pretty well for persevering through the elements.”
All-American Ruth Wilhelm highlighted Azusa Pacific’s effort for the 2-day meet. The senior from Port Angeles, Wash., finished second in the women’s shot put with a personal indoor best of 45’ 0¼” to improve her qualifying mark for the NAIA indoor championship. She went over 44 feet on her first put and continued to excel over the next 6 attempts to record the fourth best put in the NAIA this season.
All-American Zora Golcevska finished fifth in the pentathlon with 3,510 points, which is likely to be good enough to allow her to compete at the NAIA indoors. Sophomore Tiffeny Parker scored 3,196 points.
In the men’s heptathlon, a 2-day event that started on Friday thus requiring several Cougars to arrive ahead of the storm, freshman Casey Stevick was impressive in his collegiate debut, scoring 4,696 points, the second-best performance in the NAIA this year. Senior All-American David Pichler tallied 4,600 points in his first competition of the season and is probably NAIA-bound as well though he has 3 more weeks to improve that score.
Fellow senior All-American James Ferguson was third among collegians in the 35-pound weight throw with a personal-record performance of 55’ 11¾”. Later in the meet, he finished second in the shot with the NAIA’s fourth-best feat this season at 55’ 3¾”.
The Cougar distance medley relay men cruised to victory with an NAIA-qualifying time of 10:21.37.
“This weekend didn’t turn out as we had hoped,” said Barnett, “but the people of Boise State and in particular (head coach) Mike (Maynard) were really good to us in adjusting the meet and getting us into events wherever they could.”
Azusa Pacific returns home to host its first meet of the season next Saturday, an all-comers meet on Saturday (Feb. 9) that features the first-day of a men’s heptathlon and the women’s pentathlon on Friday (Feb. 8). The Saturday portion of the meet begins at 10 a.m. with the weight throws. The first event on track is the men’s 60-meter hurdles, set to start at 10:30 a.m.