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Putting Pent To Paper

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Photo by Joe Reinsch
Breanna Leslie broke the Azusa Pacific pentathlon record with 3,864 points in Friday's APU Indoor Events Qualifier meet.

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February 10, 2012
Joe Reinsch

AZUSA, Calif. -- Breanna Leslie, who two weeks ago came a single point away from tying Zora Golcevska’s school pentathlon record, opened up this weekend’s Azusa Pacific Indoor Events Qualifier meet with a school-record 3,864-point performance as Golcevska was in attendance to help Leslie celebrate the achievement.

“Going into the season, I had never thought about it (the record), but when I came one point away from it at NAU, it blew my mind,” Leslie said. “I didn’t think I was right there until two weeks ago, so this weekend I definitely wanted to do my best. The atmosphere was so relaxed, because it was just me and my teammates plus the two other girls who are good friends.”

The record-setting performance must have been contagious, as sophomore Megan Vanwinkle joined her teammate and close friend in the record books when she shattered her own school-record in the long jump with a leap of 19-feet, 8.25-inches on her third and final attempt of the event. With the record jump, Vanwinkle set her personal record in the pentathlon, scoring 3,619 points.

Vanwinkle scratched on her first two attempts of the long jump, both of which appeared to be similar in distance to her record-setting mark. However, missing the takeoff by a matter of inches in both of her first two attempts meant the five-foot-eight sophomore needed to make her final attempt count in order to register a counting mark.

“There wasn’t just pressure today in the long jump,” Vanwinkle said. “I’ve been feeling pressure all season to do better than I’ve done. It’s been pretty discouraging because I’m not where I want to be. After missing two jumps and knowing how far they could have been if I hadn’t scratched, I felt a lot of pressure on the last jump; but I also felt peace because I knew that whatever happened I was making big improvements. I just had to relax and pull through, and it was the best feeling.”

Her ensuing jump was five inches beyond the previous record (19-feet, 3.25-inches), which she set in her final attempt of the long jump competition at last year’s Golden State Athletic Conference championships.

“A good jump starts with your attitude before, when you can start to feel it and visualize what it’s going to be like,” Vanwinkle said. “If you can see the jump before you jump it, that’s when you know. If your attitude’s not there, it won’t come through. From the very first step, you know if you’re on track, because every step and position is so critical to a good jump.”

With the record performances, Leslie and Vanwinkle now own the top two marks for the pentathlon in the NAIA indoor season thus far, with teammate Emily Nash joining the pair in the national top-five with a 3,275-point effort Friday. Only two weeks of qualifying for the national meet still remain.

“We’re very excited with this performance, especially since we’ve still got a couple weeks left to qualify,” Cougar women’s track and field head coach Mike Barnett said. “We knew that Breanna was ready to break the record, we just didn’t know by how much. We also knew Megan was ready to jump pretty far, and it came together for her today. Emily’s also coming around, and we were expecting them all to do well and rise to the occasion, which they certainly all did today.”

Leslie’s 3,762-point effort to open the 2012 indoor season at the Northern Arizona Mountain T’s Invitational was already the NAIA’s top pentathlon score so far this year, and she also improved on her NAIA-leading 60-meter hurdles time with an 8.56 in the opening event of Friday’s pentathlon competition. Leslie cleared 5-feet, 2.5-inches in the high jump before recording a personal-record shot put of 38-feet, 10.25-inches. Leslie’s long jump registered 17-feet, 4.75-inches, setting up her record-breaking performance with a time of 2:18.66 in the final event of the pentathlon, the 800 meter run.

“In the 800, it always comes down to how bad you want it,” Leslie said. “How bad do you want this mark, and how much do you want a PR – that’s all I was thinking, was just to give it my all.”

Shortly after finishing the 800 with plenty of time to spare for the record, Leslie was greeted near the finish line by Golcevska, who set the previous record of 3,763 points at the 2009 NAIA Indoor National Championship meet in Johnson City, Tenn.

“I love Zora, and I wish I could have competed with her,” Leslie said. “She helps me out so much, and she gives me something to work on in every single event, so it was really cool to have her here. After I finished the 800, she told me ‘it’s about time; now go get the outdoor record.’ “

Full pentathlon results will be available Saturday morning, along with Friday’s results from the first four events of the men’s heptathlon.

The Azusa Pacific Indoor Events Qualifier continues Saturday at Cougar Athletic Stadium with a full slate of events, which are listed here.