AZUSA, Calif. – There is something about the Mt. SAC Relays that seems to bring out the best in Azusa Pacific distance runners, and no Cougar enjoys the Relays more than Aron Rono.
Rono, who holds every Azusa Pacific distance race record with the exception of the steeplechase and marathon, broke his own school record in the 5000-meters Friday night at the Mt. SAC Relays. In fact, Rono obliterated his former standard by more 20 seconds, clocking a 13:33.77. Last year at this same meet, he set the school record in the 10,000-meters, winning his race in a time of 28:13.75. Rono, a 3-time NAIA cross country All-American and the reigning NAIA champion, also owns the school records in the 1500 (3:40.71), mile (4:01.30), and 3000 (8:12.83).
Fellow senior Jaime Canterbury, an NAIA cross country individual champion as well, likewise put together a splendid performance at Mt. SAC, finishing second in the Olympic Development division of the 5000 meters Friday night. Canterbury was the top collegian with a time of 16:06.96, breaking her own school record by 28 seconds. A 9-time NAIA track & field All-American, Canterbury easily has the best 5000 time in the NAIA this year, more than 45 seconds ahead of the next closest person, and is now a strong favorite to break the NAIA record at next month’s NAIA championship meet in Edwardsville, Ill.
“Jaime took advantage of a perfect situation,” said Azusa Pacific distance coach Preston Grey. “It’s not often in distance running that you get ideal conditions like Jaime had Friday night. The weather and temperature were perfect. There was a high-level of competition in the field, and there was a buzz in the stadium. Her fitness was there and she executed very well.”
Canterbury owns 3 school records – the 1500 (4:23.61) and 3000 (9:48.45) to go along with the 5000.
Earlier in the meet, Azusa Pacific junior Jacky Kipwambok broke her own record in the 10,000-meters by 11 seconds, clocking an NAIA season-leading 34:26.78.
Not to be lost is the shuffle of school records, Cougar men Forrest Lewton and Abednego Magut recorded personal records during the Mt. SAC Relays in their distance races.
Lewton, a junior out of Caldwell, Mont., ran a 9:13.35 to finish sixth in the university division of the steeplechase. It is the fourth-fastest steeplechase in school history and the best time recorded by a Cougar in 24 years.
In his first-ever 10,000-meters on a track, Magut ran a 29:47.76 to finish seventh in Thursday’s open division competition with only the fourth sub-30 effort in school history.
“This was a great weekend for us,” said Grey. “We want to go to prestigious meets like Mt. SAC and perform like we did this weekend, competing against the best. It shows that our kids can run with any collegian in the nation, regardless of level of competition.”