CLAREMONT, Calif. -- On the doorstep of the most significant competitions of the 2014 outdoor track and field season, Azusa Pacific began to deliver the types performances expected of a program with its championship pedigree at Saturday’s 28th annual Pomona-Pitzer Invitational.
Underlying the numerous personal- and season-best marks was a pattern of consistent high performance for several Cougar standouts. Leading the way was an impressive personal-best for junior hurdler Tanner Henry, who chopped .75 seconds off his 400-meter hurdle PR by winning the event with a time of 52.38, which is the ninth-fastest on this season’s NCAA Division II list.
The women’s performances were highlighted by efforts from junior Danica Dobosy and sophomore Allison Updike in the throwing events. Updike followed last week’s program-record throw in the javelin (163-feet, 7-inches) by winning the event again with a toss of 162-feet, 2-inches on her first attempt. Dobosy, who sits in 11th on the NCAA Division II performance list in the hammer throw, also had her best throw of the meet on her first attempt, hitting 171-feet, 5-inches (52.26 meters) to surpass the 50-meter Division II provisional qualifying benchmark for the fourth time this season.
The Cougars return to action for several events this week, as Azusa Pacific hosts the Mt. SAC Relays decathlon and heptathlon in conjunction with the California Invitational combined events on Wednesday and Thursday, April 16-17. On Friday, April 18, the Cougars also host the Bryan Clay Invitational, which is expected to draw over 1,400 entries into a one-day meet. On deck next week is the Pacific West Conference championship meet, which will be hosted this year by Fresno Pacific University.
Other highlights for the women’s team included the 1500 meter race, which featured sophomore Reika Kijima clocking 4:37.89 in the fast opening heat of the event. Senior Diandra Carstensen followed Kijima’s effort by winning the second heat with a time of 4:38.95in her first race of that distance since last year’s conference championship meet.
In addition, junior high jumper Santana Alford tied her best jump of outdoor season by clearing 5-feet, 5-inches, tying her for fourth in the competition while sophomore Kim Sanchez cleared 10-feet, 11.75-inches in the pole vault, her best since the 2013 outdoor national championships. Three other vaulters all cleared heights over 10-feet along with Sanchez, as freshman Zoe Wilkens and junior Casey Schade each vaulted 10-feet, 6-inches while sophomore Lexie Glaser cleared 10-feet, 2-inches.
Senior Jordan Chesley ran a PR time of 1:05.74 in the 400-meter hurdles, and the trio of Kylie Betts, Jocelyn Orozco, and Iliana Velazquez each turned in season-best times in the 800. Freshman Kanoe Yadao ran season-bests in both of her events, the 200 (25.90) and 400 (58.97. Dobosy placed fifth in the discus with a throw of 140-feet, 8-inches, and freshman Kaylee Finkwas sixth with a season-best effort of 136-feet, 5-inches. Sophomore Erica Grassl improved her PR in the hammer by over 12 feet, throwing 140-feet, 11-inches, and sophomore Faith Douglas tied her personal-best in the high jump (5-feet, 3-inches).
Other top men’s performances came from senior Riley McKee and sophomore Ronald Douglas. McKee was just six-hundredths of a second from meeting the Division II provisional qualifier in the 800 with a sixth-place finish of 1:52.56, which was his second sub-1:53 performance of the season and a new personal-best. Douglas finished fifth overall in both the 100-meter and 200-meter sprints, finishing second in what turned out to be the fastest 100-meter heat of the event with a time of 10.81. He also placed fifth overall in the 200 with his third sub-22.00 time this season, clocking 21.98 to finish second in his heat again.
Senior Trenten Merrill knocked a third of a second off his 200-meter season best, turning in a time of 23.42 while shaving a half-second off his 400-meter PR by clocking 53.18. Jake Hare was fourth overall in the 100-meter hurdles (14.75), while freshman Matt Kenney and senior decathlete Justin Young also placed in the top-15 of the hurdle sprint. Young added a season-best high jump of 5-feet, 10-inches in his final competition before this week’s California Invitational decathlon meet at Azusa Pacific.