By Steve Holt, Sports Writer
A men’s National Championship and women’s third place finish in June was only a hint of success for several ACU track and field athletes this summer. Six standout athletes took their individual shows on the road this summer, competing in several notable national and international meets.
And these Wildcat athletes went anything but unnoticed.
“We had people scattered all over the world-literally,” said track and field coach Jon Murray.
Hurdler Richard Phillips followed up a third place finish at the Division II National Championships with the fastest junior time in both the 110- and 400-meter hurdles at the Jamaican National Trials, qualifying for the national team in both events. Phillips’ time of 51.89 in the 400-meter hurdles is an ACU freshman record. Phillips competed at the Central America and Caribbean Championships later in the summer, finishing third in the 400-meter hurdles. The sophomore also placed fourth in the 110-meter hurdles World Junior Champion-ships in Jamaica in July, where he ran a personal best time of 14.02 in the semifinals.
Assistant track and field coach Suzanne Dickenson who coaches Phillips and was with him much of the summer once competed on the Jamaican national team. Dickenson said it takes a special athlete and coaching to compete professionally while in college.
“The coach has to motivate them,” Dickenson said. “I remember that sometimes you feel lazy, so I try to motivate him and be at training on time. If I have to go pick him up, I’ll do it to show him I’ll always be there. Sometimes he needs his space, but I’m always there.”
Former Wildcat high jumper Terrance Woods cleared 7-2 1/4″ on his way to a sixth place finish at the U.S. National Championships in July, then placed second at the North America, Central Amer-ica and Caribbean Under-25 Championships later in the summer.
Murray said summer track and field means more chances to be noticed in the sport, along with gaining valuable experience.
“It’s a great opportunity for them,” Murray said. “Someone like Terrance-who got to go to the U.S. National meet and then qualify for the under-25 competition down in San Antonio-it’s just good exposure for him and us. It is more experience, and the ones who will be coming back to compete for us will be better athletes.”
Maresa Cadienhead, former ACU high jumper, added to her illustrious track and field career a 2nd-place finish in the high jump at the Canadian Championships, and a sixth-place finish at the prestigious Commonwealth Games.
Sophomore thrower Shai Shalev threw the shot 60-6″, winning the event at the Israel Championships. Shalev, along with 60-foot thrower Manuel Brandenborn, should be one of the top throwing teams in the nation next spring.
Christie Van Wyk made the 100-meter finals of the African Championships, running a time of 10.2 seconds. The junior was also a quarterfinalist at the Commonwealth Games in the 100-meter dash.
Junior Sofi Hildenborg who found her niche in the 400 meters last season, qualified for the Swedish National Team for the European Championships in the 4×400-meter relay with a time of 54.01.
Murray said the prospects for next spring’s track and field seasons look good based on the success of this summer.
“I’m proud of all those who competed,” Murray said. “I think they did a good job during the summer. It’s just a matter of coming back in, taking a break and getting back on our training schedule. Each athlete who has competed internationally will be a real asset to the team.”