SANTA BARBARA, Calif. -- Azusa Pacific won 7 of 22 events and then relied on its superior depth to run away with its second straight Golden State Athletic Conference women’s track & field championship Saturday afternoon on the Westmont Track in Santa Barbara.
The Cougars scored 213 points to easily out-distance second-place Point Loma Nazarene which tallied 175. Fresno Pacific was third with 149.5, and Biola was fourth at 123. Meet-host Westmont (67), Concordia (61.5), Vanguard (54) and The Master’s (6) rounded out the 8-team field.
Freshman Poppy Lawman paced the Cougars back to the top of the GSAC podium by having a hand in 3 event victory and 36 points. The British native by way of San Jose, Calif., won both the 800- and the 1500-meters becoming just the fourth athlete in conference history to take those 2 titles in the same championship meet (the other 3 were also Cougars).
Lawman ran a 2:16.91 to win the 800 by more than a second, becoming the ninth different Cougar to win a GSAC 800 in the past 19 years. In the 1500 she clocked a season-best 4:34.27, edging teammate Jacky Kipwambok, who finished second with a 4:35.11. Earlier in the meet, Lawman anchored the Cougars to a victory in the 4x800-meter relay, getting aid from Kipwambok’s third-leg effort as Azusa Pacific recorded a 9:23.14. She also ran the third leg on the Cougars’ 4x400-meter relay that finished third with a 3:55.58.
The Cougar distance program, which has been the backbone of the team the past 4 years, shined beyond Lawman and Kipwambok. Sophomore Lauren Jimison not only won the 10,000-meters, becoming the first Cougar to do so in 13 years, but she shattered the conference record by 48 seconds, running a 35:49.34 to beat teammate Renee Graham by just 2 seconds after she ran a 35:51.62.
Graham and Jimison rotated finishes in the 5000-meters, Graham getting the victory with a 17:08.18, while Jimison finished second at 17:11.66.
All told, Azusa Pacific scored 80 points in the distance events which proved to be the difference between collecting the program’s 15th GSAC championship and finishing second for the tenth time.
Other Cougar winners include junior Jordan Robusto who led a 3-way Cougar sweep in the hammer throw, winning the event with a heave of 153’ 2”. Senior Erin Dwyer was second at 148’ 10” and freshman Lauren Orris was third at 139’ 2”.
All-American Mandy Ross won the 100-meters for the second straight year at 11.94, but narrowly missed defending her title in the 200-meters, finishing second by .01 of a second at 24.42.
A GSAC-record run of 11 consecutive conference championships came to an end when Point Loma Nazarene broke Azusa Pacific’s stranglehold on the men’s crown, beating the Cougars and Fresno Pacific to capture its first GSAC men’s track & field championship since 1998, the last year before Azusa Pacific began its record-setting run.
Point Loma eliminated all suspense in the men’s title race, winning the crown by more than 30 points. The Sea Lions scored 202 points. Fresno Pacific was second with 168 while Azusa Pacific came in third with 158.5. Westmont (77), Vanguard (69), Concordia (58.5), Biola (58), The Master’s (31) and Cal Baptist (28) completed the team scoring.
All-American Zachary Keene is the GSAC sprint champion, winning the 100-meters (10.78) for the second straight year and then capturing the 200-meters (21.63).
Likewise, All-American Abednego Magut established himself as the GSAC distance-running champion by winning the 1500-meters (3:52.53) and the 5000-meters (14:42.23), becoming just the third athlete in GSAC history, and the first in 10 years, to win the 1500 and 5000 in the same meet.
NAIA champion Jordan Savidge continued his season-long steady progress back to the top in the nation by clearing 16’ 2 ¾” to win the GSAC pole vault crown for a second year in a row.
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