FRESNO, Calif. -- The Cougars broke the conference record in all 3 relays and All-American sophomore Breanna Leslie had hand in 43 points as Azusa Pacific rolled to its third straight Golden State Athletic Conference women’s track & field championship Saturday afternoon at Fresno Pacific University.
The Cougars scored 221 points and beat second-place Point Loma Nazarene University, which tallied 155.3. Biola University was third with 138.8 points and Fresno Pacific was fourth out of the 9-team field with 136.5 points.
The Cougar men finished second as meet host Fresno Pacific captured its first-ever GSAC track championship. The Sunbirds collected 209 points. The Cougars had 182. Point Loma Nazarene was third with 134 points.
Azusa Pacific won 12 of 22 women’s events, including a pair of sprints and a trio of distance races. Yet, it was in the relays where the Cougars pulled away from the pack. The Cougars won all 3 relays – the 4x100-meter, the 4x400-meter, and the 4x800-meter – and did so in record-setting fashion. The Cougar quartet in each race broke the GSAC record. Leslie, Anita Fung and Mandy Ross had a hand in the 2 shorter relays, while All-Americans Victoria Martinez and Poppy Lawman led the Cougars in the 4x800.
Ross anchored the 4x100 to a 47.15, breaking the former GSAC standard of 47.25 set by Point Loma in 2009. She then closed the meet by anchoring the 4x400 to a 3:50.58 to best one of the oldest records on the GSAC books, a 3:51.73 established by Cal Baptist back in 1998.
Yesterday Lawman anchored the 4x800 to a 9:10.17, narrowly breaking the former record of 9:10.21 that the Cougars clocked in the 2008 meet in Azusa. Martinez, who ran the third leg in yesterday’s relay, was also a member of the 2008 record-setting relay.
For Ross, the meet was a near perfect effort for the senior who was making her fourth and final appearance in the GSAC Championship Meet. She crossed the finish line first in all 4 races she ran, even if the difference was .007 of a second in one of them. For the third straight year she won the 100-meters, clocking a 12.11 to become the GSAC’s first-ever 3-time champ in the 100.
Later in the meet, she and Leslie ran a dead heat in the 200-meter and split the 18 points that are awarded to the top 2 finishers. Ross ran a 24.722, and Leslie was credited with a 24.729, but both were declared winners of the race. Ross now has 8 GSAC individual titles under belt, while Leslie picked up her first-ever with the win in the 200.
Like Ross, not only was Lawman key in the relay, but she was impressive in the individual races as well, becoming only the second person in GSAC history to win both the 800- and 1500-meters in back-to-back years. She successfully defended her conference crowns in the mid-distance races by recording a 2:12.22 and a 4:32.81. Martinez was second to Lawman in both races with times of 2:13.50 and 4:34.58.
NAIA champion Lauren Jimison won her second GSAC crown by taking the 5000-meters with a yet another conference record, running a 16:45.84 to break Jacky Kipwambok’s 2-year old standard by a whokping10 seconds.
Along with her victories in the 200, 4x100 and 4x400, Leslie finished second in the 100-meter hurdles (14.08), and third in the high jump (5’ 4 1/4”) to account for 43 points.
For the Cougar women, it’s their 16th GSAC championship in the 26-year history of the conference.
For the second straight year, junior Zachary Keene proved to the king the male sprints, easily running away with the conference crowns in both the 100- (10.61) and 200-meters (21.65).
Fellow junior Abednego Magut picked up 18 points of his own, winning the 10,000-meters last night and then finishing second in today’s 1500-meters (3:54.86).
Though he didn’t win an individual race, junior Deon Nolan had a hand in 34 points. He finished second in the open 200- (22.10) and 400-meters (48.33) and ran the third leg on the Cougars’ 4x400 that finished with a 3:20.63. He also ran the second leg on the Cougars’ winning 4x100 that clocked a 42.55.
The only other Cougar to win an individual championships was junior Kyle Clark who claimed his first GSAC title with a 53.55 in the 400-meter hurdles.