AZUSA, Calif. -- It was all about multiple opportunities this weekend, and multiple Cougars came through in multiple events multiple times.
As a result, multiple Cougars qualified for next month’s NAIA Indoor Track & Field Championship Meet.
Senior Jeff Altizer and sophomore Breanna Leslie put together the best heptathlon and pentathlon, respectively, of their careers to highlight this weekend’s Azusa Pacific Indoor Qualifier Meet held at Cougar Stadium on Friday and Saturday.
Last year’s NAIA runner-up in the heptathlon, Altizer scored a career-best 4,949 points over the 2-day, 7-event heptathlon to win the overall event, one of 4 event victories the Cougars collected on Saturday. A 4-year Cougar, Altizer posted personal records in both the 60-meter hurdles (9.09) and the 1000-meters (2:48.81) and had strong showings in the 60-meters (7.39) and pole vault (15’ 5 3/4”). Altizer’s score is the fourth best tally in the NAIA this year.
Amazingly, in his first-ever heptathlon, senior Jordan Savidge qualified for the NAIA indoor championships with an impressive first-time score of 4,834, the sixth best point total in the NAIA this year. Always known for his sprinter-like speed, Savidge did not surprise anyone with his 7.19 in the 60-meters to start the heptathlon, and as expected he showed well in his specialty, the pole vault, clearing a season-best height of 16’ 1 3/4”. He used his speed in the long jump to post a mark of 22’ 5” and then registered a fine effort on the shot with a put of 34’ 8 1/2".
Meanwhile Leslie continued to shine as she evolves into potentially one of the best pentathletes in recent NAIA history. The Arizona native scored 3,539 points to easily win the pentathlon and record the third best score in program history. She recorded career-best efforts in the 800 meters (2:22.53), high jump (5’ 1 1/4"), and shot put (33’ 3 3/4").
Teammates Emily Nash and Megan Vanwinkle likely rode Leslie’s coattails into the NAIA Indoor Championship Meet as well. Nash, a junior out of San Marcos, Calif., also scored a career-best in the pentathlon with 3,391 points, and the freshman Vanwinkle tallied 3,385 points in her first-ever pentathlon. Both scores are expected to be good enough to get the 2 athletes into the NAIA meet.
As a result of the fine showings this weekend, Azusa Pacific will be sending 6 multi-event athletes to the NAIAs, 3 men and 3 women.
In other notable performances from the meet, All-American Zachary Keene won the 60-meters with a NAIA provisional qualifying mark of 6.95. Senior Montrail Brooks qualified in the 600-meters with a career-best 1:19.44. Later in the meet, Brooks anchored the Cougars 4x400-meter relay to victory with a season-best and qualifying effort of 3:17.68, the second-best time in the NAIA this year.
Genesis Hampton posted the Cougars’ other victory of the meet, taking the triple jump with a season-best performance of 47’ 3 1/2".
All-American Mandy Ross added the 400-meters to her NAIA qualifying list, winning the event with a season-best time of 57.21, the third fastest time in the NAIA this year.
Ross then anchored the 4x400, which featured pentathletes Leslie, Nash and Vanwinkle ahead of her, to a 3:55.74, the fourth best effort in the NAIA this season.
In the 1000-meters, both Poppy Lawman and Victoria Martinez qualified for the NAIAs with times of 2:53.14 and 2:55.31, respectively.
Azusa Pacific remains at home next weekend when the Cougars host a last-chance qualifying meet for national indoor championship meets on Saturday (Feb. 19), beginning at 9:40 a.m.