By Steve Holt, Sports Writer
For the second year in a row, ACU was unable to sweep the Lone Star Conference Track and Field titles, which were up for grabs Friday and Saturday in San Angelo. The men’s team won its 12th straight LSC title behind 12 first-place finishes, while the women’s team placed second to Angelo State, which finished with a dominating 243 points.
Before finishing one point behind ASU at last year’s LSC meet, the ACU women had won 20 consecutive conference titles. Their 227 points were not enough to match ASU’s depth in the running events last weekend, however.
“It’s a big disappointment to myself and the ladies,” head coach Jon Murray said. “We had a few injuries and a little bit of bad luck, and they got by us this year. I’d say it’s still the exception rather than the rule.”
In total, 12 men and 8 women posted new or improved qualifying marks for the NCAA Division II Track and Field Meet, which will take place May 26-28 at ACU’s Elmer Gray Stadium.
The men were dominant in the running events, picking up several wins in the field events as well. Murray said he was pleased with the team’s overall performance.
“We had a really good meet for the men in a lot of different areas,” he said. “They did a good job competing, running well, and working hard.”
In the men’s 3,000-meter steeplechase, freshman sensation Nicodemus Naimadu ran a meet and track record 8:47.37 to win easily and qualify automatically for nationals. Naimadu also easily won the 5,000-meter run on Saturday with a time of 14:29.56, and “trained through” a 1,500-meter race to finish second behind teammate Lucky Hadebe. Naimadu added the steeplechase to a growing list of events in which he has qualified, including the 5,000-meter run and the 1,500-meter run.
Freshman Laurant Ngira-kamaro cruised to a conference title in the men’s 10,000-meter run, finishing in 30:42.37. Ngira-kamaro also placed second in the 5,000-meter run with a time of 14:50.53.
Sopho-more Marvin Bien-Aime was another double winner for the Wildcats, winning the 100- and 200-meter dashes in 10.5 and 21.04, respectively. Teammate Marvin Essor qualified automatically in the 400-meter dash with a time of 46.23, one of the nation’s best.
Hadebe became a double champion with his title in the 800-meter run (1:50.11), and teammate Cole McAllister placed second in 1:56.55. Cory Aguilar won the men’s pole vault by clearing 16-11, and also placed second in the 400-meter hurdles (53.07), which was a provisional qualifying time.
Both men’s relays earned big points for ACU as well. The 4×100-meter ran 40.55, an improved provisional time, while the 4×400-meter relay team won its race in 3:09.89.
Freshman Vladyslav Gor-benko won the men’s triple jump with a provisional mark of 48-11, followed by Yevgen Pashchenko in second place (48-4 _).
In the women’s 3,000-meter steeplechase, freshman Trina Cox beat out teammate Olha Kryv’yak (10:45.48) to win the event in a conference and track record time of 10:43.99. Cox and Kryv’yak already qualified automatically for the national meet in the event. Freshman Denise Morgan placed first in the 800-meter run (2:15.25), followed by Kryv’yak in second place (2:16.27). Addeh Mwamba, who leads the nation in the 800-meter run, was disqualified for stepping out of her lane too early, but followed up the disappointment by leading an ACU sweep in the 3,000-meter run (10:11.85). Mwamba won the race, followed by Cox (10:13.16) and Kryv’yak (10:51.94). Cox also won the 5,000-meter run in 17:45.93, a provisional qualifying time. The Mwamba-Kryv’yak show continued in the 1,500-meter run, as the duo went 1-2 in the race (4:43.83 and 4:48.85, respectively).
Jessica Hunt was a double-winner for the women’s team, winning the 100- and 200-meter dashes in 12.01 and 24.64, respectively. Keva Wilkins won the 400-meter dash in 55.69.
ACU once again swept the women’s pole vault, led by Angie Aguilar’s 12-5 performance. Senior Val Gorter also cleared 12-5 to finish second, followed by Katie Eckley’s 11-11. The Wildcat trio will be a force at nationals if the women can remain healthy and vaulting well.
Transfer Shawna-Kaye Thompson, who would have been a top contender for the 100-meter hurdles title, did not compete because of an injury she sustained last week.
ACU picked up points from the women’s relay teams, however, as the 4×100- and 4×400-meter relay teams placed first and third, respectively.
Friday and Saturday, Murray will take a handful of athletes to the prestigious Penn Relay Carnival in Philadelphia, while the rest of the team rests or lightly trains at home.
“We’re really tired after this weekend,” he said.