By Grant Abston, Sports Editor
The track team hosted its first meet of the outdoor season Thursday at the ACU Triangular Track and Field Meet, and four Wildcats automatically qualified for the NCAA Division II outdoor championship meet.
“It went really well,” said Don Hood, head track and field coach. “We had a lot of good performances, and I was pleased that we had 17 athletes who had personal bests or hit qualifying marks.”
Originally, the meet, which also included athletes from Texas Tech and Oral Roberts Universities, was scheduled to take place Friday afternoon, but forecasts of high winds and cold temperatures forced the move to Thursday.
“The best thing is that it wasn’t cold because we got it done just in time,” Hood said. “We saw that the cold front was coming, and we were able to call Tech and Oral Roberts, and they were willing to move it up just to get the meet in, and it turned out to be a good thing.”
On the men’s side, Nick Jones automatically qualified in both the shot put and the discus, winning each event. Jones won the discus with a throw of 177 feet, 11 inches and the shot put with a throw of 55 feet, 9.25 inches.
Desmond Jackson won men’s 100-meter with an automatic qualifying time of 10.43 seconds.
“I thought Desmond Jackson ran very well in the 100-meter, and he beat some very good sprinters,” Hood said.
Stephen Toler won the men’s pole vault with a vault of 17 feet, 75 inches, also good for an automatic qualifying berth. Cory Altenberg also automatically qualified in the pole vault with a clearance of 16 feet, 6.75 inches and a second-place finish. Ramon Sparks provisionally qualified in both the long jump and the triple jump with jumps of 24-3.0 and 48-7.25, respectively. The men’s 4-by-400-meter relay team provisionally qualified as it won the race in 3:13.16. The team consisted of Desmond Jackson, Regi McCabe-Gossett, Jordan Johnson and Harold Jackson.
The women’s squad had its own share of success as Paige Newby automatically qualified in the women’s discus event. Newby finished in second with a throw of 164 feet.
Three women also provisionally qualified for the national meet, including Kim Prather in the 400-meter, Callie Young in the pole vault and Amanda Clemons in the triple jump.
Prather won the 400-meter with a time of 55.47 seconds; Young finished third in the pole vault with a jump of 12 feet, 1.50 inches and Clemons won the triple jump with a mark of 39 feet, 0.25 inches.
Hood also was impressed by Allison Fowler, who improved her time in the women’s 3,000-meter by more than 30 seconds. Hood said Cleophas Tanui had a 12-second improvement in the 3,000-meter and was pleased to see him get back in shape.
“As a whole, it was really good,” Hood said. “Pretty much everybody who went to the indoor championship either hit a mark or is really close to it, so for the first opportunity of the year we feel that we started off on the right foot.”
The team will compete in the Clyde Littlefield Texas Relays in Austin beginning Wednesday with the decathlon and concluding Saturday. The Wildcats who did not meet the requirements for the Texas Relays will have the chance to compete in McMurry Relays on Thursday in Abilene.
“We will run against some real good people there, [in Austin],” Hood said. “There will be 20,000 people in the stands, and hopefully our relays will hit some good marks. It’s a good opportunity to showcase the program and show people the quality of athletes that we have.”