By Steve Holt, Sports Writer
On July 24, 14-year head track and field coach Jon Murray announced that he would be resigning from his post at ACU and moving to Lubbock to coach the distance runners at Texas Tech University.
Murray coached the Wildcat men’s cross country team to its best place ever the last four years. ACU finished in the top 10 at the Division II national meet in 1993, 1996, and 1998-2004, including five straight second-place finishes between 2000 and 2004.
Before he left the university, however, Murray had one last bit of business to tend to.
The men’s track and field team did not serve as much of a gracious host for the NCAA Division II Track and Field National Championships in May, if one were judging by the Wildcats’ treatment of their competition.
ACU absolutely put the hammer down on its nearest competitors late in the last day of competition at Abilene’s Elmer Gray Stadium, overcoming on-and-off rain to score 109 team points, well ahead of Adams State’s 84. St. Augustine’s placed third with 70 points, and Lincoln and Albany State rounded out the top five with 41 and 40 points, respectively.
Lincoln University repeated as the women’s national champion (108), followed by Cal-State Bakersfield (53) and ACU (45.5). Wildcat senior Marvin Essor returned from a short rain delay to win the national title in the 400-meter dash. Sophomore Marvin Bien-Aime shook off a sixth-place finish in the 100-meter dash (10.63) to win the 200-meter dash a few events later.
Freshman Nicodemus Naimadu won the men’s 5,000-meter run in 13:59.67, while teammate Laurant Ngirakamaro finished third in 14:19.99.
The men’s 4×400-meter relay team pulled off an unexpected win in the meet’s last event to secure the team championship, running the best time since 1997 in the process.
Naimadu won a national championship in the 3,000-meter steeplechase earlier in the day.
The Wildcat men have won the last four outdoor track and field national titles.