By Steve Holt, Sports Writer
Four more ACU athletes, two men and two women, qualified provisionally Saturday for next month’s Division II Indoor National Champ-ionships as the Wildcats competed at the Red Raider Invitational in Lubbock. Saturday’s additional qualifiers brought the ACU total to 22, 13 of whom are men and nine of whom are women.
Head coach Jon Murray said that with just three meets remaining before the NCAA Division II Indoor Championships on March 12-13, he’d like to see a little more output from his women’s team.
“In the men, I think we’re doing fine. We’ll get even more [qualifiers] out of the meet this weekend in Arkansas,” Murray said. “In the women, we have a little ways to go, especially in the running events. We need to get some more qualifiers there and get some people to perform. It’s such a young group of ladies-it could happen at any time.”
The women’s 4×400-meter relay qualified provisionally with a time of 3:50.82, certainly helped by the addition of senior 400 meter standout Sofi Hildenborg. Freshman Stephanie Warren also qualified provisionally, clearing 5-6 1/2 in the high jump to place second.
Sophomore Yevgen Paschenko, who placed second in the triple jump at both the indoor and outdoor national championships in 2003, posted a strong provisional mark in the event Saturday, finishing second with a jump of 50-6 1/4. In his first action of the season, senior Manuel Brandenborn threw the shot 56-1 1/4 to qualify provisionally and finish fourth. Brandenborn was the outdoor champion in the event in 2002, but was hampered by injury for much of the 2003 season.
Two athletes bettered their previous provisional qualifying marks Saturday. Junior Katie Eckley, the 2003 outdoor national champion, won the women’s pole vault, improving her qualifying mark to 12-5 1/2. Liga Klavina finished fifth in the women’s long jump, slightly improving her qualifying mark to 18-7 1/4 in the event.
Murray said the slow start from the women’s team doesn’t mean it isn’t living up to the pre-season predictions of being drastically improved.
“I think they are [much improved], I just don’t think they’ve shown it yet,” Murray said.
Some of the top ACU men and women will face the nation’s best Division I talent at the Razorback-Tyson Invitational Friday and Saturday in Fayetteville, Ark. Some of the teams entered include Arizona State, Arkansas, Auburn, Baylor, Houston, Indiana, Miami, Mississippi State, Mississippi, Oklahoma State, Oklahoma, Rice, SMU, TCU, Tennessee, Texas and Texas Tech.