By Steve Holt, Sports Writer
On showcase at the most prestigious collegiate meet in the world Friday and Saturday, the Wildcat distance runners once again demonstrated their ability to perform with the best in the nation.
Friday night, ACU freshman distance runner Nicodemus Naimadu ran the second-best 5,000-meter time in school history and the No. 2 time in collegiate track and field. His time of 13:39.37 at the Stanford Invitational in Palo Alto, Calif., was just seconds behind Notre Dame’s Kurt Benninger (13:33.05), who has the top time in the world this year.
The ACU freshman won the 5,000-meter run with ease at the Division II indoor national meet just two weeks ago and appears to improve with each meet. Naimadu’s nearest Division II competition, Western State’s Oliver Bodor, finished 20 seconds behind him in the race Friday, which featured many of the nation’s top collegiate and professional distance runners. Naimadu’s time qualified him automatically for the NCAA Division II Outdoor National Meet, which will take place at ACU’s Elmer Gray Stadium May 26 through 28.
Head coach Jon Murray said Naimadu has great potential to even improve on the times he’s posted already.
“If we continue to challenge him in practice, find him some good competition, I think he’ll rise to the occasion,” Murray said. “I don’t think he’s come close to reaching where he can be.”
Another freshman who performed well at Stanford on Friday was freshman Laurent Ngirakamaro, who ran a provisional qualifying time of 29:26.25 in the 10,000-meter run, finishing 31st in a stacked field of runners.
Lucky Hadebe-the reigning indoor champion in the 800-meter run-finished fifth in the 1,500-meter run Saturday with a fine automatic qualifying time of 3:44.03.
Two ACU women made their marks at Stanford as well. Addeh Mwamba finished third in her heat of the 1,500-meter run behind 2004 Olympian Nicole Teter and Wisconsin senior Anne Shadle. Mwamba’s time of 4:21.61 easily qualified her automatically for the national meet.
Teammate Olha Kryv’yak, who won the women’s mile at the indoor national meet two weeks ago, qualified provisionally in the same race, where she was sixth in her heat.
Freshman Trina Cox finished sixth in the 3,000-meter steeplechase, posting a provisional qualifying and nation-best time of 10:26.28.
Murray praised the performances of his women’s distance runners.
“It’s probably the best depth we’ve had in the women,” he said. “They are just all getting in there and competing well, and doing that as a group.”
A handful of athletes also competed Saturday amid rainy conditions at the Baylor/Dr. Pepper Invitational in Waco.
Sophomore Angie Aguilar led a 1-2-3 ACU finish in the women’s pole vault, posting a provisional qualifying mark of 12-5.
Cory Aguilar won the men’s pole vault with a provisional height of 16-0, while Delt Cockrell ran a provisional time of 47.53 in the men’s 400-meter relay.
Freshman Shawna-Kaye Thompson finished third in the women’s 100-meter dash with a provisional time of 11.73, while Marvin Bien-Aime ran a provisional qualifying time in the 200-meter dash on his way to a second-place finish.
On Saturday, ACU will play host to the Oliver Jackson Invitational at Elmer Gray Stadium in preparation for the 77th annual Clyde Littlefield Texas Relays in Austin April 7 through 9.