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Fine Opening to New Season

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March 26, 2011
Gary Pine
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SAN DIEGO, Calif. -- A partial squad of men and women opened Azusa Pacific’s 2011 outdoor season at the Point Loma Nazarene Multi-Team Scoring Meet. The Cougar men finished third out of 12 teams and the women were fifth out of 11.

In their first competition since finishing third at the NAIA indoor championships 3 weeks ago, the Cougar women won 7 events, led by All-American sprinter Mandy Ross, who wasted no time punching her ticket for the NAIA outdoors by clocking qualifying and winning times in the 200- (24.32) and 400-meters (56.79). She then anchored Azusa Pacific’s 4x100-meter relay to another victory with a 48.16. Ross had a hand in 60 of the 342.5 points that the Cougars scored in the 20-event women’s team competition. Colby College, an NCAA Division III school out of Waterville, Maine, won the women’s meet with 462 points.

Ross wasn’t the Cougars’ only double-winner. Sophomore Jordan Robusto easily won her specialty, the hammer throw, with a career-best and NAIA-qualifying heave of 162’ 9”. Teammate Kat Luna was second with a throw of 144’ 9”. Robusto also took the discus throw with a mark of 128’ 11” to narrowly edge freshman teammate Lauren Orris, who finished second at 127’ 3”

Freshman Lindsey Curtis made quite a splash in her Cougar debut, winning the javelin throw with a toss of 131’ 2”, the eighth-best toss in program history and the best by a Cougar since 2007.

The Cougars’ other event victory belonged to sophomore All-American Breanna Leslie who took the 100-meters with a very fine early-season time of 14.37, good enough to qualify for the NAIA outdoor championships. Later in the day she came back to post a career-best effort in the high jump with a leap of 5’ 3” to finish fourth in the 19-athlete competition.

Freshman David Musson highlighted the Cougar men’s performance by ending a 2-year wait with a tremendous collegiate debut. Musson, who was one of the nation’s premier high school javelin throwers until an elbow injury put him out of service for an extended amount of time, launched the spear 220’ 4”, the second-best throw in school history and just 2 inches shy of Jesse Aust’s school record set in 2001.

Musson’s performance was 1 of 4 event victory the Cougars registered on the day on their way to 352 points. NCAA Division III Middlebury (Vt.) College won the men’s 12-team competition with 441.5 points.

Azusa Pacific All-American Zach Keene won the 200-meters with an NAIA-qualifying 21.45.

Junior college transfer Deon Nolan took the 400-meters in a time of 49.01. Nolan and Keene then bookended the Cougars’ winning 4x100-meter relay that clocked a 42.86.

Junior Kyle Clark missed the automatic NAIA-qualifying standard in the 400-meter hurdles by .01 of a second, finishing second with a 53.81, while fellow hurdler Slater Ezell posted a personal-record 15.34 to finish second in the 110-meter high hurdles.

Both the men’s and women’s teams competed without their strong corps of distance runners, all of whom stayed home to help Azusa Pacific host a high school meet.

Azusa Pacific returns to the San Diego area next week with a full squad of competitors when the Cougar visit Cal State San Marcos for the Mangrum Invitational.