by Lori Cruz
The University of La Verne’s men and women’s track teams participated at the Steve Scott Invitational last Saturday at Cal State University Long Beach.
The goal for both teams was to get more athletes qualified for nationals which will be held in La Crosse, Wisc., May 20-23.
“This week we go to Occidental, it’s the same kind of meet (as the Long Beach event). You try to qualify for nationals, no team scores and the kids pick out the events they want to do. And at Cal State L.A. on the 17th we do the same thing,”said Pat Widolff, head coach.
“I’m hoping for the same thing we did last Saturday. The kids will do a little bit better and maybe a couple more will qualify for nationals,” said Widolff.
“The 4×400 [relay] women ran 3:54.2 which qualified them automatically for nationals. They actually have the fastest time in the nation right now,” said Widolff.
Those women are freshman Jemeace Willis, junior Stephanie Castillo, senior Vikki Wallace and sophomore Patrina Hall.
“I’m planning on doing the 200, 4×100 and long jump this Saturday. For the 200, I’m planning on at least a 25.1. And for the long jump I plan on hitting 18,” said Hall.
“I know there is going to be a lot of good competition there [at nationals], so that’s why I’ve been out here practicing harder every day, so I could be up there with them,” said Hall. “Right now I’m going to be concentrating on the long jump and the 200.”
Willis and Hall also qualify for the 4 x 100 relay along with junior Katrina Hall and senior Stacey Williams. Their qualifying race is now a school record of 48.70. Katrina Hall and senior Jacqui Zwissler both qualified automatically for the triple jump with distances of 38-0 1/4 and 37-10 3/4.
For the men’s team, senior Jason Neal, junior J. Anthony Rudolph and seniors Anthony Rice and Liron Wilson are automatically qualified for the 4×100 relay with a time of 41.25, which is also a school record. Wilson also qualified in the men’s 200 meter race with a time of 21.55.
“I’m just coming off an injury and I’m starting to get back on track. I’m starting to feel like I did last year when we went to nationals and won. It’s coming around now, it’s a little late, but it’s coming around,” said Neal, who will try to qualify this weekend for the 100 meter race.
“My fastest time this year is a 10.93. Qualifying is 10.85. I can do it, I just wish my legs had cooperated with me earlier this season,” said Neal. “I started off with shin splints and then I strained my left hamstring and then I kind of sprained my right hamstring. Everything is starting to get healthy now. I’m focusing more toward nationals now, and I expect to do well there.”
Wilson has the second fastest time in the country running the 200 meter.
“I’m hoping to be in the top four [at nationals]. Might win, you never know,” said Wilson.
Will Darity, assistant coach for track in distance, sprints and jumps, said, “The qualifying period is from March 1 through May 17.”
Senior Socorro Gonzalez is an automatic for shot put with a distance of 43-6 1/2 and also for the javelin with 134-2 along with Zwissler with 134-10.
“We have some provisional people, which means they have qualified, but they are not automatically going to nationals. They need to get closer to the automatic marks to try to go. So we’re hoping we can get a few of these people to get to the automatic mark,” said Widolff.
Some of the provisional athletes are Castillo in the 400, with a mark of 58.61, Williams for long jump with 18-1 1/4 and for the discus, Eboni White (138-4) and Katie Holmes (135-9). Rhiannon Jensen qualified provisionally in the javelin with 126-3.
“This qualifies her for the nationals (provisional) and it was her personal best. It qualifies her but they only take the top 15 or so. She has worked really hard and really improved,” said Jim Sullenger, part-time throwing coach.
Jensen said that next year she is going to do shot put, discuss and hammer.
“I’m excited. This is my fifth year doing shot put. I practice every day. Mental preparation is the name of the game now,” said Jensen.
Provisional qualifiers for the men include Rudolph (10.83), Wilson (10.85) and senior Anthony Rice (10.73) for the 100 meter race.
Darity said Rice will be able to go to nationals in the 4×100 relay and possibly for the 100 meter also.
“His contract forbids him from doing collegiate activities but only in terms of football. In terms of track and field he is an amateur. So he is going to nationals,” said Darity.
Senior Michael P. Bailey has a provisional score of 190-10 with the javelin, as does Jose Davila with 190-2.
One of the goals for the team members going to nationals is, according to Darity, to be considered All-American.
“The top eight in each event are All-American. If you’re in the top eight in your event, you’re considered to be an All-American, that’s one thing [they compete for]. That’s one thing we’re shooting for. On the women’s side, we’re really trying to shoot for a top 10 finish. Last year our men finished seventh in the country overall. We possibly have a chance to get some national champions.
“Like the 4×100 [men’s team] we won last year and we’re trying to repeat it. The women’s 4×400 is ranked first, so they have a chance to win the national title. That’s what nationals is about. It’s a chance to perform well against everyone in Division III, across the nation,” said Darity.