FRESNO, Calif. – A handful of Cougars competed at the fourth annual Run for the Dream Invitational held at the Save Mart Center in Fresno. It was Azusa Pacific’s first opportunity to compete indoors this season, and judging by the results, the Cougars seem ready to compete at the NAIA Indoor Championship Meet in 4 weeks.
Several Cougars qualified for the indoor championships, including all 7 female athletes who made the 4-hour trek north. Junior Kayla Carstensen highlighted Azusa Pacific’s evening with a sterling performance in the mile in which she registered a 12-second personal record. Carstensen clocked a 5:10.27 to finish third in the 10-athlete field and in the process easily meet the automatic qualifying standard for the NAIA championship meet (5:12.25). For Castensen, it is her first-ever qualification for an NAIA individual event (she has run on several relays at NAIA meets).
Teammate and NAIA champion Jacky Kipwambok also qualified for the NAIA mile with a 5:09.91 to finish just ahead of Carstensen in second place.
Fellow distance runner freshman Poppy Lawman won the 800-meters with a 2:17.45. Junior < b>Mandy Ross was second in the 55 meters with a 7.15, which she’ll use as a converted mark to qualify for the NAIA 60 meters.
NAIA outdoor champion Tiffeny Parker ran a personal-best 8.23 in the prelims of the 55-meter hurdles to improve her status for the NAIAs. Parker also tried to qualify in the pentathlon but she fouled out in the long jump after tallying 2,137 points through the first 3 events and opted to scratch out of the fifth and final event, the 800-meters.
All-American Becca Reyes recorded an NAIA-qualifying effort of 1:29.51 in the 600-yards, which she’ll convert to qualify for the 600 meters. Sophomore Lauren Jimison won the 5000-meters with a qualifying time of 17:21.33
“Overall, it was a great meet for us,” said Azusa Pacific Women’s Head Coach Mike Barnett. “Every athlete recorded a season-best and either qualified for the NAIA championships or improved their mark. We’ve nearly got everyone we need for the NAIA meet with the exception of some throwers, and we’ll try to qualify them in the weeks ahead.”
On the men’s side, All-American Anthony Logan won the 600 yards with a 1:14.28, and sophomore Zachary Keene registered a 6.46 in the 55-meters despite running in the sixth lane which did not have a lengthy run-through at the finish line like the other lanes.
All-American Cedrique Smith ran a 7.49 in the elite race of the 55-meter hurdles, finishing fourth as the only collegian in the race.
In the field events, junior Jeff Altizer narrowly missed an automatic qualifying mark for the NAIAs in the long jump after finishing fourth with a personal-best leap of 22’ 8½”, less than 4 inches of the NAIA standard. NAIA champion Jordan Savidge continued his steady improvement in the pole vault with a leap of 15’ 3¾” to finish fourth.
The rest of the Azusa Pacific team was scheduled to compete in the Cerritos Invitational in Southern California; however, the meet was cancelled because of rain.
Azusa Pacific makes its initial home appearance of the 2010 season when the Cougars host an all-comers meet Saturday (Feb. 13). A pentathlon/heptathlon for Friday afternoon is attached to the meet schedule. Saturday’s competition begins at 10 a.m.