By Jared Fields, Editor in Chief
Three athletes bettered provisional qualifying marks over the weekend to solidify their spots in the NCAA Division II Indoor Championships March 14-15 in Mankato, Minn.
Of the 12 athletes who competed this weekend, the three who qualified were all men – Serge Gasore in the 5000m and pole vaulters Aaron Cantrell and Cory Altenberg.
“The hard reality is that it’s the end of indoor season, and it’s been a week since our previous week, and there’s just not a lot of miracles that happen in a week,” said head coach Don Hood. “If it’s not in the bank, you can’t draw it out.”
Three athletes out of the 12 who qualified may sound like a low number, but as Hood said, the outcomes weren’t disappointing.
“So I’m not disappointed in them, I’m disappointed for them,” Hood said. “If you get three out of 12, that’s actually a pretty high percentage for this point of the season for what we’ve got going.”
Gasore ran a 14.32:20 in New York to rank him 11th in the nation and give him a time that should qualify him for the national meet.
“I think that was a great meet for me because I was able to qualify,” Gasore said.
After keeping pace with a rabbit sent out to set the pace of the event, Gasore and another runner stayed together after the rabbit dropped his pace.
“I stayed with this one guy who wanted to run a good time,” Gasore said. “Then I said, ‘OK, I’ll stay with you no matter what happens.'”
Hood said Gasore gives the Wildcats an athlete in the next to last event of the meet. And with a sixth-place finish at the 2007 National Cross Country Meet, Hood said he believes he can count on Gasore if the team needs points at the national meet.
“Surely, with his talent level, and his determination and his love for this team, he’s the kind of guy you can count on to go get something,” Hood said. “If we need three or five points or whatever, I think Serge has the talent to go get that for us.”
The other two athletes who bettered their marks, Cantrell
and Altenberg, both cleared 16-1.25 in the pole vault at the Nebraska Wesleyan Open. That mark places them 11th and 12th in the nation and will get them to Minnesota.
Cantrell’s mark is five inches better than his previous indoor personal best and he said he’s been clearing heights over 16-1 during practices in the last week.
“It’s a huge relief, now that I made it; it’s all about scoring points now to get that triple crown,” Cantrell said.
However, those who failed to perform their own miracle will resume their work sooner than later.
This weekend, ACU hosts the first outdoor meet of the season Friday with the Oliver Jackson Open. Hood said schools like Angelo State, Tarleton State and local, smaller schools should be there.
Field events begin at 10 a.m. and noon, with running events starting at 2 p.m.
Although the team leaves for nationals next week, Hood said he’ll use the meet this weekend as preparation for his teams.
“What we do this week will directly affect us next week more than what we do next week will,” Hood said.
He added that the upcoming week will focus on “a bit higher intensity and a little less volume.”