by Matt Paulson
The University of La Verne track and field teams traveled to Occidental College this past weekend to compete in the Occidental Distance Carnival Friday and the Oxy Spring Break Classic Saturday.
The overall highlight on Friday came from Monica Martinez in the sixth women’s event of the day, the 3,000-meter steeplechase.
Martinez turned in a time of 11:53.35 to place first for the Leopards in the event.
She also captured a provisional qualification for the National Tournament in May.
This means that come the end of the season, providing Martinez’s time remains one of the top in the nation, she will be given a spot in the tournament, assistant coach Will Darity explained.
Leti Arroyo just missed a qualification for Nationals as she raced to a time of 38:28.33 in the men’s and women’s 10,000-meter run Friday, finishing 18th overall and second among the other female racers.
In the men’s events of the Occidental Distance Carnival, Kelly Wood held the only top-ten finish for ULV in the 3,000-meter steeplechase.
Wood marked a time of 10:02.50, which was good enough for 4th place and a new ULV.
Also placing for the Leopards in men’s events were Fasial Javed and Adam Raymond with respective times of 2:03.32 and 2:03.61 in the 800-meter run and Cecilio Barrera and Rogelio Garcia with times of 16:14.84 and 16:16.15 in the 5,000-meter run.
“This is the best group of distance runners we’ve ever had. All of them ran really good,” said head coach Pat Widolff.
“They just need to keep training hard. If they keep training hard, they’ll begin to run faster in eight to nine weeks and that’s really the goal of all runners: to run well at the end of the season.”
On Saturday, the Leopards were part of the 2002 Oxy Spring Break Classic held at Occidental College.
In the tenth women’s event of the day, the triple jump, Adriana Ramirez chalked up a distance of 10.41 meters to score a second-place finish and eight points for ULV.
For the men, in the 400-meter hurdles, Will Lawson re-broke ULV’s record as he ran a time of 52.75 and finished first place. Lawson conveyed confidence as he crossed the line 2.05 seconds before his closest competitor, Robert Garcia of East Los Angeles College.
With this runaway victory, Lawson marked the fastest time in the country this season and secured an automatic bid to the National Tournament, which Widolff described as a “pretty big deal.”
“Will did exceptional,” said Widolff.
“I came into [the meet] really optimistic because there wasn’t anybody there,” said Lawson.
“I just put it in my mind that I wanted to qualify for the prestigious Mt. SAC relays. I also wanted to qualify for Nationals early because my foot has been giving me problems.”
In response to his record-breaking time, Lawson said, “I just wanted to put up a time. I already had the school record in the 400 hurdles I’ll probably break it again next weekend.”
The time also earned Lawson Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Athlete of the Week for the week ending March 17.
ULV nearly held a monopoly on the top five spots in the 100-meter dash. Lawson took first with a time of 11.10; Dimitri Watson held down fourth, running the race in 11.43 and Eric Thomas finished fifth, just behind Watson with a time of 11.70.
The men’s field squad, led by junior Brandon Tedrow and red-shirt Bobby Vail, placed high in a large number of events Saturday.
Tedrow took first in the pole vault with a mark of 3.96 meters and in the discus throw with a toss of 45.14 meters.
He also made his way to second-place in the javelin with a distance of 58.22 meters.
Vail occupied the top spot in the hammer throw with a hurl of 46.10 meters.
His efforts of 13.52 meters in the shot put and 43.53 meters in the discus throw awarded him second-place honors in both events, although his successes do not count for ULV simply because he is a red-shirt and technically unattached to the Leopards.
When asked to comment on the meet, Vail said, “I can’t say anything; I’m just a red-shirt.”
Ryan Cairney was just behind Vail in the shot put with a distance 12.45 meters and a finish of fourth.
Cairney also provided ULV with depth in the discus throw as he followed Tedrow and Vail with a score of 36.93 meters and a seventh-place finish.
In the high jump, Jason Riley took home eight points for ULV and a second-place ranking with a leap of 1.98 meters.
“It was a very small meet, but there were [Division I] and [National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics] schools there and it showed that SCIAC schools can compete at a higher level,” said Tedrow.
ULV’s next meet is at 10 a.m. for the men and 10:30 a.m. for the women this Saturday when it hosts the La Verne Invitational.