AZUSA, Calif. – Someone once said that records can fall like raindrops. If so, there’s a storm hovering over the Azusa Pacific distance program.
Every time Aron Rono, Jaime Canterbury or Jacky Kipwambok take the track it seems another school record is broken. And such was the case this weekend at the prestigious 34th Annual Stanford Invitational in Palo Alto, Calif., where both Rono and Canterbury yet again etched their names into the Cougar record book.
Each the reigning NAIA cross country champion, both Cougars won their respective sections of the 5000-meter run at Stanford and in the process shattered the school records. Rono became the first Cougar ever to clock a sub-14 5000, running a 13:54.50 Friday night to better his own school-standard of 14:11.67 that he recorded at last year’s Mt. SAC relays. He beat his nearest competitor (Georgia State’s Mark Steeds) by 3 seconds.
The following day Canterbury ran a 38-second PR and clocked a 16:34.41 to break Brianna Carstensen’s 2005 school record of 17:01.34, a mark that many thought would stand a long time. However, in this amazing year for the junior from Dana Hills, Calif., no record seems to be out of reach for Canterbury, who now owns the Azusa Pacific records in the 1500, mile and 5000 to go along with 5K school cross country record.
Rono owns the school records for the 1500, mile, 5000 and 10,000 to go along with the cross country 5K standard.
Running in the same section as Canterbury, Kipwambok also bested Carstensen’s former record, finishing third with a 16:46.17.
While the Cougar distance elite were running in Palo Alto, the rest of the Azusa Pacific track & field athletes remained in Southern California and competed at the Pomona-Pitzer Invitational in Claremont Saturday.
It was there that senior Matt Sparks showed no ill-effects of a year layoff from the sport because of a foot injury, winning the 110-meter hurdles with a season-best and legal 14.35. Sparks beat a 22-man field with a time that is ahead of the pace he established 2 years ago when he eventually clocked a personal-best 14.00 in winning the NAIA title. Later at Pomona-Pitzer, he came back to run a 52.62 to finish seven in the 400-meter hurdles.
Sophomore Monti Sutton put together his best triple jump of the season, finishing second at the Pomona-Pitzer Invitational with a leap of 48’ 3½”. Meanwhile junior Anthony Logan continued his impressive debut season as a Cougar by running a PR 47.46 in the 400, finishing second in the meet with the seventh fastest quarter-mile in Azusa Pacific history.
Azusa Pacific now has 6 athletes who have met automatic qualifying marks for the NAIA Outdoor Track & Field Championship meet. Along with Rono, Logan and Sutton, Sparks has met the NAIA standard in both the high and intermediate hurdles. Cliffton Gay punched his ticket to the NAIA’s with a 53.14 in the 400 hurdles at Pomona-Pitzer.
As for the Cougar women, freshman Mandy Ross appears to be getting stronger as week passes. Barely 18 years old, Ross recorded Azusa Pacific all-time Top-10 times in both the 100- and 200-meters, finishing seventh in the 100 (12.31 – eighth best time in program history) and sixth in the 200 (24.73 – fourth best time in program history) at Pomona-Pitzer.
Junior Becca Reyes automatically qualified for the NAIA Outdoors in the 1500 meters with a 4:39.57, finishing fifth overall at Pomona-Pizter with the eighth best time in school history.
In the throws, All-American senior Megan Ilertsen enjoyed her best day of the outdoor season by finishing third in both the discus (148’ 3”) and hammer (163’ 3”) throws with season-best efforts. In the process, she qualified for the NAIAs in the hammer (she was already in for the discus) and narrowly missed the qualifying standard in the shot put with a season-best mark of 39’ 6½”. Teammate and fellow All-American Ruthie Wilhelm won the shot with a put of 43’ 9½”.
Azusa Pacific returns to the track Friday (April 11) at the Johnson-Kersee Invitational at UCLA.