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Rain Takes Round One

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May 26, 2011
Gary Pine

MARION, Ind. -- The natives of the Midwest say they’ve had enough of the rain this spring. Visitors from California would concur after just 1 day.

Mother Nature, in the form of constant rainfall, sometimes heavy other times annoyingly cold and misty, toyed with the NAIA Outdoor Track & Field Championships during Thursday’s opening day of competition at Indiana Wesleyan University. As a result, individual marks were down, and frustration was up. Even Azusa Pacific, which has won more NAIA track & field championship than any other school, wasn’t immune to the affects of the weather.

The Cougars struggled through the first day, and admittedly they would like to be in better position heading into the second of the 3-day meet.

The Azusa Pacific women are currently tenth with 7 points, and the Cougar men are 15th with 2 points.

Junior Lauren Jimison put in the most significant performance for Azusa Pacific during Thursday’s 30-event competition. Jimison finished third in the finals of the women’s 10,000-meter run with a time of 35:28.08. She led most of the race with a pair of runners on her shoulder, and over the final 2 laps Obsie Birru of Grandview University and Karlee Coffey of Eastern Oregon University pulled away from Jimison to finish first and second, respectively.

Freshman Megan VanWinkle picked up the Cougars’ other point of the day with an eighth-place finish in the women’s long jump, leaping 18’ 6”.

In the heptathlon, Breanna Leslie is currently second with 2,993 points. All-American senior Tiffeny Parkeris sixth with 2,819 points, while VanWinkle is tenth with 2,584.

The rest of the women’s competition was spent in preliminary races. Senior Mandy Ross moved into the semifinals of the 100-meters with a season-best 11.97. She then caught a break when another competitor went down with a pre-race injury, eliminating the need for a preliminary race in the 200-meters and saving her legs.

The Cougar 4x800-meter relay of Kelsey Seaman, Diandra Carstensen, Victoria Martinez and Poppy Lawman won their heat, holding off Simon Fraser University and advance to the finals after Martinez ran an outstanding third leg.

Leslie moved into the semis of the 100-meter hurdles with a 14.90 in today’s prelim.

On the men’s side, Azusa Pacific’s lone 2 points came off the arm of freshman David Musson, who battled rain in the face and strong winds to finish seventh in the javelin with a toss of 195’ 10”.

Though the sun didn’t shine today, the Cougars did have some bright moments, particularly with junior Zach Keene, who looked strong in both of his sprints, finishing second in heats of the 100- and 200-meters to advance into the semifinals.

In the decathlon, senior Jeff Altizer enjoyed a good first day, tallying 3,347 points on the strength of personal-records in the high jump (6’ 1 1/4") and shot put (36’ 5”). He is currently in seventh place but with his strong events – pole vault and javelin – still ahead of him, he is expected to move significantly up the ladder come Friday.

The rain should stop for 24 hours but while Friday’s forecast calls for no rain, the skies will be cloudy and temperatures will be only in the mid-60s for the 29-events on tap plus the conclusion of the heptathlon and decathlon.