FRESNO, Calif. -- Azusa Pacific opened the 2012 track and field season with a bang, building on Cedrique Smith's meet-record 55-meter high hurdles victory to a solid opening day with strong performances from all four athletes it sent to the Run For The Dream Invitational Friday afternoon in Fresno.
Smith ran a 7.44 in the finals, shattering the previous mark of 7.72 set by Fresno Pacific’s Ethan Dejongh in 2010, easily posting an “A” standard time to earn an automatic entry into the 60-meter hurdles at the NAIA Indoor National Championship. In fact, his time of 7.61 that also topped the preliminaries was enough to break the meet record and earn the NAIA’s “A” qualifying mark.
In fact, all four Cougar athletes who competed in the meet posted at least “B” qualifying marks in an event, with Smith and two others notching “A” marks. Breanna Leslie and Megan Van Winkle represented Azusa Pacific’s women’s track and field program in both the long jump and the 55-meter hurdles. Leslie’s “A” qualifying event came with her 55-meter high hurdles time of 8.34, finishing one spot out of a finals spot by a margin of seven-hundredths of a second. Van Winkle’s best performance came in the long jump, with her second leap of the competition spanning 17 feet, 10 ¼ inches, good for a fourth-place finish and an “A” qualifying mark in the event.
“The entire group we sent was made up of All-Americans, so the expectations we had for them were high,” said Cougar men’s track and field head coach Kevin Reid. “It was nice to send a group that performed steady and delivered on those expectations. Our performance at nationals will depend on them, so this was a great way to start the season.”
Leslie’s best jump came on her final try, covering 17 feet, 1 ½ inches to claim eighth out of 19 athletes in the event. Van Winkle ranked 20th overall in the 55-meter high hurdles, posting a time of 8.97 seconds.
Zach Keene met the “B” standard by clocking 6.47 in his preliminary heat of the 55-meter dash, the third-fastest time out of a 15-athlete field that included 10 entrants from NCAA Division I programs. In the finals, he registered a 6.56, finishing in fourth when he was edged out by a hundredth of a second by Long Beach State’s Nathan Alade.
Azusa Pacific participates in two more meets on the road before hosting its first meet of the year, the Feb. 10-11 Azusa Pacific Indoor Events Qualifier.