AZUSA , Calif. -- Azusa Pacific put the final touches on its NAIA Indoor Track & Field Championship Meet team during the Cougars’ Last Chance Qualifying Meet in Azusa Saturday afternoon.
A small meet by typical standards, just over a half-dozen schools competed, and most of them, like Azusa Pacific, had already put together their contingent of national championship competitors. Nonetheless, for Azusa Pacific several athletes solidified their national standing in their respective events, and confidence was bolstered heading into the national meet, just 2 weeks away.
Cougars won 15 of the 35 events staged during the Last Chance Qualifier, including defending NAIA indoor pole vault champion Jordan Savidge, who has struggled all season to find the right pole for his competition and thus has been posting marks well below his near 17-foot efforts of a year ago. Still, Savidge cleared a season-best 15’ 5” to help his confidence as he heads to Johnson City, Tenn., for the NAIA championships, March 4-6.
Closely behind Savidge was teammate Jeff Altizer, who finished second by matching his season best in the vault at 15’ 1”.
Sophomores Zach Keene and Kyle Clark won the 200- and 600-meter runs, respectively, Keene clocking a personal-best 21.72 to rate among the top 20 in the NAIA this year, and Clark cruising to a 1:23.53. Keene also won the 60-meters (6.93).
As expected, All-American Cedrique Smith took the 60-meter hurdles (8.28), while Abednego Magut waltzed to a 4:15.40 in the mile.
Newcomer Jerry Sommerville won the high jump and in the process reached the NAIA provisional standard with a clearance of 6’ 6” which will punch his ticket to Johnson City as well.
On the women’s side, freshman Poppy Lawman continues to impress with another season-best in the 800-meters, winning the event with a 2:15.03.
Sophomore Liz Schwartz is peaking at the right time by taking the pole vault with career indoor best of 11’ 3”.
Freshman Lauren Orris qualified for her first NAIA competition after winning the 20-pound weight throw with NAIA provisional qualifying mark of 48’ 9”.
In all, the Cougars recorded 35 season-best efforts during the Last Chance Qualifier.
A handful of Cougars will compete in next week’s Rossi Relays at Claremont-Mudd-Scripps Colleges before a large contingent takes off for the NAIA Championship Meet a few days later.