AZUSA, Calif. -- Azusa Pacific’s first home meet of the 2012 season had a little bit of everything, from a pair of stadium-record performances to an unexpected downpour late in the day at Saturday’s Azusa Pacific Indoor Events Qualifier.
It even featured an impressive heptathlon debut for Cougar junior sprinter and hurdler Sameer Sedam, who finished first or second in four of the seven events and took fourth overall with 4,825 points in his first-ever crack at multi-events.
“I was aiming high, but I was still surprised, because realistically, I just wanted to hit the minimum,” said Sedam, whose first two years at Azusa Pacific has been spent primarily running sprint and hurdle events. “Last week I asked coach if I could try the multi. He asked if I could pole vault, I said no; he asked if I could learn, and I said I could try. I knew I had no chance at qualifying in any other event, so I wanted to see if I put it together how it would look.”
Sedam was one of six Cougars entered in the heptathlon, which was won by Westmont’s Adam Thompkins with 4,939 points and followed by Matt Rau (4,702) and Jorge Macias (4,392) ahead of Sedam’s fourth-place finish. Rau’s performance put him inside the top 10 on the NAIA performance list.
“The mental aspect of multi-events was the toughest,” Sedam said. “Competing in four events Friday where no matter how you did you still have to wake up and compete in three other events forces you to be completely well rounded, and it gave me a lot more respect for the multi-event athletes we have.”
After Azusa Pacific freshman Remontay McClain ran a 6.68 in the 60 meter dash prelims, breaking the previous stadium record of 6.70, set by Mike Mitchell in 2007. In the finals, he improved his time to 6.64 but finished second overall to Mickey Grimes, whose 6.61 becomes the new stadium standard. The other stadium record that fell was Tony Ramirez’s 600-meter mark of 1:17.17, which Duane Solomon broke with a time of 1:16.45.
For now, McClain’s mark stands as the NAIA’s fastest 60-meter time heading into the final week of qualifying for the March 1-3 NAIA Indoor National Championships in Geneva, Ohio. McClain also registered a blistering 21.18 in the 200 meters, improving by over half a second on the “A” qualifying time he recorded last week.
“Things can change around in a hurry these last couple of weeks, but I think we’re a 50-60 point team at nationals, which is usually right there the last couple of years,” Cougar men’s head coach Kevin Reid said. “The things we can do are pretty solid, with Remontay and Zach in both sprints, Cedrique and Jake in the hurdles, Wade in the mile, and Abednego in the 5k. Those are really solid points, and all of a sudden Matt Rau put himself into the mix with an All-American type of performance in the heptathlon.”
After Breanna Leslie and Megan Vanwinkle broke school-records during Friday’s pentathlon, the Cougar women’s team pushed several more qualifiers through, primarily in the distance events. In the mile, senior Victoria Martinez won with ease, registering an “A” qualifying time of 4:54.77, while Diandra Carstensen was the winner in the 1000 meters, finishing in 3:00.87 to add an “A” mark to her repertoire. Lauren Jimison was another “A” qualifier in the mile, finishing fourth with a time of 5:08.27.
“I’ve been working hard for five years for the chance to finish this one season strong, and every group we have is doing great things,” Martinez said. “Our throwers are doing well, our multis are definitely stepping up, and we’ve got a good shot to do some great things if we all come together. It was exciting today to see everybody do so well with (PRs and qualifiers).”
A trio of Cougars all finished within four seconds of each other in the 5,000 meters, with Melissa Telon, Kristie Sikma , and Sarah Higgens all finishing in the top-five of the event with “A” qualifying times. Telon was the first of Azusa Pacific’s trio to cross the finish line, running a 17:24.68, while Sikma was right behind at 17:26.38. Rounding out the top-five Cougar trio was Higgens, who registered a time of 17:28.67, which gave all three an “A” qualifying time.
In the pole vault, Ferin Barry and Casey Schade both cleared 3.00 meters, while Barry also cleared the next height at 3.15 meters (10-feet, 4-inches). At shot put, Kat Luna took second overall with a put of 44-feet, 11-inches, which was an “A” qualifying mark and would rank sixth in the NAIA this season. Luna, along with Cheri Smith and Lauren Orris swept the top three spots in the weight throw, although none recorded season-bests in the event.
Jordan Chesley came within 13-hundredths of a second of a “B” qualifying time in the 60-meter hurdles, finishing fourth in the finals of that event while notching a sixth-place performance with a 1:01.45 time in the 400 meters.
On the men’s side, Zachary Keene ran a 6.87 in the 60 meter dash, advancing to a seventh-place finish in the finals of the event, and he also took second in the 200 with an “A”-qualifying time of 21.48. Cedrique Smith won the 60-meter hurdles comfortably, finishing in 7.97 to match the time that has him atop the NAIA performance list. Smith also registered a “B” mark in the long jump, leaping 23-feet, 1.75-inches.
Wade Meddles finished third in the mile with an “A”-qualifying time of 4:17.08, and Abednego Magut hit the “B” standard with a time of 4:21.80. Kyle Clark notched a “B” mark with a 1:21.61 in the 600 meters.
Azusa Pacific remains home for its final chance to qualify for the indoor national championships, next week’s Azusa Pacific Last Chance Qualifier (Feb. 18).