By Jared Fields, Managing Editor
A week after setting the year’s best time in the 10,000 meters, Nicodemus Naimadu defended his 3,000-meter steeplechase title at the Texas Relays in Austin with a time of 8:38.71.
“To follow a 10,000 with a steeplechase is the hardest thing to do,” said head coach Don Hood. “I was really proud of just his effort. He’s just as tough as he has to be.”
The cold, wet weather in Austin kept the Wildcats out of competition Saturday, which Hood said was probably for the best.
“We didn’t run because of weather,” Hood said. “With the injuries we’ve had we didn’t want to risk it.”
With the injuries the teams have sustained, the move proved wise; no Wildcats left the relays injured.
“I think we’re about a week or two from getting everyone back to full strength,” Hood said. “I’m hoping by the TCU meet that we’re back to strength.”
Naimadu was not the only Wildcat to shine in the steeplechase this weekend. Ohla Kryv’yak won the women’s race with a time of 10:38.35.
“Ohla took the lead after two laps and opened up a seven-second lead,” Hood said. “She just got stronger and stronger, and it was impressive.”
Hood said her time in Austin would have placed her in the top three at nationals last year.
“Her fitness level has improved. I think she’s turned a corner,” Hood said.
Athletes who didn’t compete at the Texas Relays stayed in Abilene to run at the McMurry Relays. There, Loice Cheboi ran the steeplechase in 11:07.93, a time Hood said will qualify her for nationals.
Also at McMurry, Liga Klavina threw 48-06.25 feet, which ranks third in the country.
Cory Altenberg provisionally qualified in the pole vault with a height of 16-02.75 feet.
In Austin, the women’s 4×800-meter relay placed sixth with a time of 8:47.47 and seventh in the sprint-medley relay with a time of 3:58.91.
Hood said they began with the lead in the 4×800 relay but just couldn’t hold it.
“We were so far out front it was ridiculous, “Hood said. “I don’t know what happened; nobody ran their best.”
But with the weather and following a successful meet a week prior, Hood said he is accustomed to weeks like this one.
“We had a real good meet at UTEP the week before, so there’s always a down after a high.”