LOUISVILLE, Ky. – It was like they held hands all season long, as if maybe there’s something going on here.
For the second time this year, the Azusa Pacific men’s and women’s track & field teams posted identical finishes at an NAIA championship meet. After both teams finished fourth in their respective meets at the NAIA Indoor Championship in March, the 2 squads came back this weekend to record matching fifth-place showings at the NAIA Outdoor Track & Field Championships at Cardinal Park in Louisville, Ky.
The Cougar women, who led the competition for the first 2 days of the meet, ran out of gas and athletes during Saturday’s final round of action. The Cougars mustered just 3 points on the day, all coming from sophomore Whitney Jacobsmeyer’s sixth-place finish in the steeplechase in which she ran a personal-best 11:04.85. Azusa Pacific finished with 38 points. Simon Fraser captured its second NAIA outdoor championship with 79.5 points. Reigning indoor champion Oklahoma Baptist was second with 64 points.
“We competed well,” said Cougar women’s head coach Mike Barnett. “When I look at the marks, we just missed advancing to the finals in a number of events but I see a lot of season-bests and personal records. We’re just very young, but this is a great experience for our athletes, and I think it bodes well for the future.”
Among those narrow misses was freshman Capree Bell in the high jump who was just .05 of a meter from matching her season-best and possibly finishing third for All-America honors. As it was, she came in 14th with a clearance of 5’ 3.”
In keeping form with their female teammates, the Cougar men gave a gallant effort in a variety of events but were stretched to their limit. For instance, sophomores Tony Ramirez and Matt Sparks entered the meet as one of the bests in the NAIA in their specialties, and though Ramirez finished third in the 400 meters (47.17) and Sparks was eighth in the 400-meter hurdles (52.92) both athletes had already run a number of prelims races in other events.
The same was true for All-American decathlete Brian Bernard, who after competing in the grueling 2-day decathlon came back today to clear 15’ 5” in the pole vault, some 6 inches off his season best and thus out of the running for additional All-America honors.
A day after anchoring Azusa Pacific to the 4x800 title, junior Danny Reid gutted out an eighth-place finish in the 1500 meters (3:55.01). Reid’s relay teammates of Caleb Lynch and Kevin Lindsey went 5-6 in the 800 meters (1:53.40 and 1:53.52, respectively).
Azusa Pacific tallied 46 points. Dickinson State (N.D.) won its second straight NAIA outdoor crown with 99 points.
By finishing fifth, the Cougar men claim their eighth straight Top 5 showing at the NAIA Outdoor Championship Meet while the Cougar women recorded their fourth straight.