Leopards qualify for state championships

by Scott Harvey
Assistant Sports Editor

The University of La Verne men and women’s track and field teams continued to add to its wide array of accomplishments last Saturday and Sunday. The Leopards left for the California/Nevada State Championships in Northridge qualifying more athletes for the NCAA Outdoor Championships than ever before.

La Verne set out for the State Championships with a women’s Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SCIAC) Championship under its belt and a men’s third place SCIAC finish to add to the team’s accomplishments.

“I have never had a chance to deal with the talent we have right now. It’s great,” said head coach Pat Widolff.

Setting the stage for the Championships the Leopards had automatically qualified nine women and six men for nationals. On the women’s side of the qualifiers, La Verne had previous qualified in four events, including the 4x100m relay, the javelin throw, the shot put, and the triple jump. The women also provisionally qualified in the 4x400m relay, the 400m, the discuss throw, and the long jump.

The women’s 4x100m relay team of senior Stacey Williams, freshman Jemeace Willis, and juniors Katrina and Patrina Hall, although not present at the State Championships, did qualify for nationals with a time of 48.70.

In the shot put, women’s standout senior Socorro Gonzalez also recently qualified for nationals as she threw past her personal best with a toss of 43’6 1/2, enough to place her in top contention. Also paving La Verne’s way to the Outdoor Championships in the javelin, Gonzalez threw a mark of 134’2″ and was only bettered by senior teammate Jacqui Zwissler who threw a mark of 134’10” on Saturday which placed her fifth among California’s best throwers and gave her All State honors. Zwissler’s accomplishment on Saturday was a milestone for La Verne as it was the first time a javelin participant had retained All-State status.

Among other recent qualifiers for national contention was Katrina Hall as she soared above other La Verne triple jumpers, with a jump of 38’0 1/4″, enough to qualify automatically. Zwissler also qualified with a jump of 37’10”.

If circumstances permit the women’s provisional status of the 4x400m relay team, made up of Willis, seniors Stephanie Castillo and Vikki Wallace, and Patrina Hall, will also travel to Wisconsin with an impressive time of 3:56.73.

Other Leopards with provisional standing include Castillo in the 400m with a season best time of 58.61, Williams in the long jump with a mark of 18’1 1/4″, and sophomore Eboni White in the discus with a throw of 138’4″.

Although the women’s team was not fully represented at the State Championships, La Verne finished 18th overall at the Northridge meet on Saturday.

“I don’t think that there has ever been a women’s track and field team at La Verne with the combined talent of this year’s squad. Hopefully we can prove it further at Nationals,” said Widolff.

The men also fared well in qualifying for nationals, although its full team was not present on Saturday at Northridge. The men did not need to compete Saturday do to outstanding performances during the season and automatically qualified athletes for Nationals in the 4x100m relay, the 100m, and the 200m.

In the 4x100m relay senior Jason Neal, junior J. Anthony Rudolph, senior Anthony Rice, and junior Liron Wilson qualified in the top percent of teams with a time of 41.25. In the 100m Rice sprinted to a SCIAC record this season with a personal best time of 10.48 and captured the event at the SCIAC Championships two weeks ago. The last qualifier for the men was Wilson in the 200m, who was the lone representative for the men sprinters on Saturday with a time of 22.30, which put him in seventh place among California qualifiers, automatically rendering him an All-State competitor.

On the men’s field side of the competition, junior Michael P. Bailey was the lone Leopard to compete in the javelin on Saturday, even though he qualified provisionally this season with a throw of 190-10, his javelin throw of 185-02 was enough to place him sixth in the State Championships.

La Verne will continue its season tomorrow at the Steve Scott Invitational in Long Beach. The Championships in La Crosse, Wisc. will take place on May 10.

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