KANKAKEE, Ill. -- The Azusa Pacific track and field teams put together a solid start on the first day of the 2014 National Christian College Athletic Association Indoor Track and Field Championships. Through finals in seven women’s and five men’s events, both Cougar teams sat in sixth place heading into Saturday’s competition.
The women’s team registered 23 points on the opening day and sat just five points out of third place, while the men scored 18 points and were just one point out of a top-five spot.
The Cougars registered four scoring finishes on the women’s side, led by the distance medley relay which won the event by less than two seconds despite a chaotic mixup on the exchange between the 800-meter leg and the mile leg. When sophomore Reika Kijima finished the 800-meter leg, she had to stop and wait several seconds for officials to permit the next runners onto the track for the exchange. In the process, Azusa Pacific fell out of the lead, but senior Diandra Carstensen came all the way back to give the Cougars the victory with a time of 12:19.02.
“She had to come from a little ways back, but she ran a great race with a lot of composure to get us back into it,” said women’s track and field head coach Preston Grey. “It was an impressive race for us on a pretty solid day of performances.”
In the opening heat of the women’s 60-meter hurdles, senior Jordan Chesley won her opening heat with a season-best time of 9.06, and she ended up recording the fastest time of the prelims to earn a spot in Saturday’s final.
Other women’s scoring performances included a fourth-place finish in the 5000 meters from junior Elle Farrar, who turned in a personal-best time of 18:32.02 to add five points to Azusa Pacific’s team scoring total. Junior Amber Panapa added a fifth-place mark in the weight throw, adding nearly a foot to her best throw in the prelims with a 49-foot, 11-inch toss in the finals.
The Cougars also placed fifth in the 4x200 meter relay, clocking 1:46.44 and finishing just 14-hundredths of a second behind the fourth-place finishing team from Indiana Wesleyan.
Led by fourth-place finishes in both the distance medley and 4x200 meter relays, Azusa Pacific registered five scoring performances on Friday while sending six entries through to the finals of the 60-meter dash and 60-meter hurdles. In addition, the Cougars’ trio of heptathlon entries put themselves in line to produce strong scoring finishes when the combined events conclude on Saturday.
Senior David Schulte placed fourth in the long jump, registering 22-feet, 1.75-inches, and senior Sameer Sedamwent through to the finals and registered a ninth-place jump of 20-feet, 10-inches, which was just 3.5 inches away from a top-eight scoring finish.
The Cougars also scored in the first throwing event of the meet, with Brad Beckwith and Miles Gastil placing seventh and eighth, respectively, in the men’s weight throw. Gastil had the competition’s fifth-best throw in the prelims at a season-best distance of 48-feet, 7.5-inches, but Beckwith edged past him in the finals by a half-inch, throwing 48-feet, 8-inches to finish one spot ahead of his teammate.
In the sprint prelims, freshman Benjamin Byer and sophomore Ronald Douglas advanced to the finals in the 60-meter dash, while junior Tomek Czerwinski, freshman Matt Kenney, junior Justin Young, and junior Jake Hare all registered qualifying times for the finals of Saturday’s 60-meter hurdles.
For live results of Saturday’s NCCAA Indoor Track & Field Championship finals in Bourbonnais, Illinois, visit the live results link provided by championship host Olivet Nazarene University.