GENVA, Ohio -- He had the meet of his life, recording 4 career-bests and a season best, and though it wasn’t enough to allow him to repeat as national champion, senior Casey Stevick is nonetheless a school record holder.
Now a 5-time All-American, Stevick scored 5,385 points in the 2-day heptathlon to break the school record, finish second in the event, and highlight Friday’s competition of the NAIA Indoor Track & Field Championship Meet at the GaREAT Sports Complex in Geneva, Ohio.
Stevick, who entered the day second to Robbie Haynie of Eastern Oregon University, momentarily caught and passed Haynie with a career-best time of 8.29 in the 60-meter hurdles, the opening event of the day. However, in the pole vault, Haynie’s specialty, the EOU junior cleared 16’ 10 3/4", out-scoring Stevick by nearly 300 points, to re-assume a lead that he never let go of the rest of the way. Thought Stevick ran a personal-record 2:47.87 in the seventh and final event, the 1000-meters, he couldn’t catch Haynie in the final tally, finishing 88 points behind him.
Cougar senior Jordan Savidge, in his first-ever heptathlon on the national stage, finished sixth with a personal-best 4,994 points.
The Stevick-Savidge combo registered 9 points for Azusa Pacific, and the Cougars sit in sixth place heading into the third and final day of the championship meet. Concordia University (Neb.) leads with 22 points.
Much of Thursday’s competition was centered around preliminary races, and the Cougars fared well, setting themselves up for a run at their fifth straight national crown.
Cross country All-Americans Wade Meddles and Abednego Magut looked strong in their respective event prelims, Meddles clocking a season-best 4:13.13 in the mile, and Magut posting a personal-best 8:31.56 in the 3000.
Junior Zach Keene, an NAIA runner-up in the 60- and 200-meters last year, was nudged out of the finals of this year’s 60 by the narrowest of margins, just .004 of a second, realizing the agony that a season-best 6.87 wasn’t good enough to get him into this year’s finals. He did, however, advance to Saturday’s 200 finals with another season-best time of 21.66, good enough to win his heat while recording the third fastest time in the prelims.
Senior Montrail Brooks, whose collegiate career will end in tomorrow’s final day of the NAIA meet, made sure there would be another day for him by running a 1:19.71 to zip into the 600-meter finals.
Azusa Pacific took a small hit to its championship pursuit when Deon Nolan was disqualified from the 400-meters after running a qualifying time during his prelim race.
“We’re in the thick of the championship run,” said Cougar Men’s Head Coach Kevin Reid. “It’ll be a tight race amongst 4 or 5 teams. We have to perform very well, but we have the capability. Abednego and Wade are key, and they have the talent to lead us.”
In the women’s team championship race, Azusa Pacific currently sits in fourth place with 14 points after picking up 8 more points today with a sterling performance in the 4x800-meter relay. The quartet of Kelsey Seaman, Diandra Carstensen, Victoria Martinez and Poppy Lawman ran a sizzling 9:01.62, recording the second fastest time in school history while finishing second to Simon Fraser University (8:57.35). Carstensen, who is just a freshman running in first-ever national championship meet, clocked a 2:14 split on her leg and took the Cougars from seventh to second in the face.
“I knew coming into the meet that no one could catch Simon Fraser, but I thought we could run something like this,” said Cougar distance coach Preston Grey.
In Friday’s preliminary competition, Breanna Leslie (60-meter hurdles), Martinez (mile), Mandy Ross (200- and 400-meters), and Lawman (1000-meters) all moved through to Saturday’s finals in their respective events, each of them looking good and posting times near the top of their prelims.
The Cougars misfired a bit in the women’s weight throw where junior Kat Luna, who entered the meet with the third best throw this season, couldn’t get into the finals after fouling on 2 of her 3 prelim throws. And while Lauren Orris (52’ 2 3/4") and Jordan Robusto (51’ 1”) also didn’t get out of the prelims but both recorded career-best marks in the weight throw.
The NAIA championship meet concludes Saturday with 15 women’s and 15 men’s championship events, beginning at 10 a.m. (EST) with the women’s triple jump. At 12:55 p.m. the first Cougar takes to the track with Martinez’s run in the mile.