By Steve Holt, Sports Writer
The men’s and women’s track and field teams will be in Norman, Okla., Saturday for the Sooner Indoor Invitational. Just two meets remain for ACU athletes to qualify for the NCAA Division II Indoor National Championships, which will take place March 12-13.
Head coach Jon Murray said the Wildcat athletes competing Saturday will be doing so with a number of goals.
“It’s a mixed group-some of the ones that didn’t qualify, and some who are just trying to get a tune-up before nationals,” he said. “Some are going to compete, mainly to get ready for outdoors.”
He added that this weekend begins the official “crunch time” to qualify for nationals.
“The women’s running-we’re still struggling to try to get some people in there. That’s been difficult,” he said. “The men are in a very good position. There’s just a few spots in the men that we need to fill.”
Through last weekend’s competitions at the Tyson and Missouri Southern invitational meets, five men and one woman have qualified automatically for nationals. Another 12 athletes have qualified provisionally in 15 events.
Twelve men and 21 women, along with both 4×400-meter relay squads will be competing in Norman Saturday. Senior distance runner Nick Branen will have his season debut, competing in the mile and 3,000-meter run. Several men will attempt to qualify for the first time at Saturday’s meet, including Doug Bongmba in the 800 meters; sprinter Nicholas Buckvar; 60-meter hurdler Stephon Greenlee; Daniel Kincade in the 400-meter dash; pole-vaulter Kyle Lingafelt; sprinter Trey Lockhart; and Toby Zelt in the pole vault.
For the women, new Division II pole vault record holder Katie Eckley has set a goal to vault 13-7, which would be 4 1/2 inches higher than her current record. Other women looking for a provisional qualifying mark include quarter-miler Brooklyn Hunt; Brandy Lynch in the shot put; Jessica Blair in the high and triple jumps; miler Mollye Stanford; sprinters Amal and Wafaa Taissir; sprinter Allison Tate; Abbie Waters in the 3,000-meter run; Amy Williams in the shot put; Flora Williams in the 200- and 400-meter dashes; and Tashia Wooldridge in the 200- and 400-meter dash.