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Off and Running (and throwing)

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January 27, 2007
Gary Pine
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IRVINE, Calif. –- Early-season track & field meets are about confirmation. Coaches and athletes want verification that off-season workouts and winter practices have paid off. For Azusa Pacific, the results are in, and everyone is generally pleased.

In its season-opening meet of 2007, Azusa Pacific qualified for the NAIA Indoor Championships in 11 different events, 6 men and 5 women, during the Concordia Invitational. It was a strong early-season showing for a pair of programs seeking to make runs at their respective national titles.

For the Cougar men, All-American James Ferguson paved the way with a pair of NAIA automatic qualifying performances in the shot put and weight throw. Ferguson opened the new season with 2 strong showings, reaching near PRs in both events with a put of 51’ 8” in the shot and a throw 54’ 1” in the 35-pound weight.

Junior Lance Soderberg, a former NAIA All-American in basketball who is now a full-time high jumper, qualified for his first-ever NAIA indoor championship meet with a season-opening leap of 6’ 9”, his best jump since 2004. NAIA hurdle champion Matt Sparks punched his NAIA indoor ticket with an 8.25 in the 60-meter hurdles.

As expected the Cougar men relays of 4x800-meters and distance medley ran qualifying times of 7:51.43 and 10:07.20.

On the women’s side, newcomer Zora Golcevska, a junior transfer from Santa Monica City College, clocked a 9.03 in the 60-meter hurdles, good enough for an NAIA berth. All-American Sarah Stafford, a veteran of 7 previous NAIA championship meets, is headed back to her eighth clearing 11’ 1” in the pole vault.

Like her male counterpart Ferguson, junior Ruth Wilhelm qualified for the NAIA championships in both the shot put (personal-best 42’ 9”) and weight throw (49’ 9”).

The women’s distance medley relay of Whitney Jacobsmeyer, Sarah Jackson, Kjersti Housman and Jaime Canterbury ran an NAIA qualifying 12:28.25.

Next week Azusa Pacific competes in its only real indoor meet prior to NAIAs when the Cougars travel to Flagstaff, Ariz., to compete in the Winter T Invitational at Northern Arizona University.