With Nationals in mind, some athletes of the Leopards track and field teams participated in the Claremont Classic this past weekend in efforts to get tuned up and improve their times with the season winding down.
Among some of the competitors present at the Claremont meet this year were several Division I teams, including USC, San Diego State and Long Beach State, as well as other individual competitors.
Time is a major emphasis now especially when it comes to placing high in events and qualifying for Nationals.
Senior Efrain Partida once again stood out for La Verne, recording the fastest time in ULV history in the 800 meters, 1:56.16.
He also holds the school record in the 1,500 meters.
“There are eight to 10 players striving to get personal records with this last meet just trying to make it to nationals,” head coach Pat Widolff said. “I’m pretty confident that they will do well.”
Freshmen Adam Kazub and Seve Villareal also saw action at the Classic, as they competed in the 100 and 200-meter events.
Kazub finished 22nd in the 100 meters while Villareal followed behind in 26th place.
The pair also both finished in the top 25 in the 200-meter relay.
Also placing for the ULV men was senior Dwayne Griffiths, who placed 14th in the 400 meters with a time of 50.34.
Even though he finished in the top 20, Griffiths was still unsatisfied with his finishing mark.
“I’m not happy with my time at all because it won’t be competitive at Nationals,” Griffiths said. “I hope to improve it in the next week (at Occidental).”
Off the track, junior Jon Virgin threw a seasonal personal record in the hammer throw with a distance of 155.2 inches.
Yet the Leopards will be missing their senior captain Darnell Gilbert at Nationals this season.
“I won’t be going to Nationals because I want to walk the stage at graduation,” Gilbert said. “I worked four years to graduate and I’m going to do it.”
On the women’s side, Leopard women placed high at Claremont as well.
Senior Alexis Candelaria paced the women this weekend placing 23rd in the 10,000 meters with a time of 37:41.6.
While senior Veronica Andrews finished the javelin with a fifth place finish and a distance of 36.41 meters.
The last and final meet before Nationals will be the Occidental Invitational which will take place on May 12.
Among the ULV athletes expected to compete in Eagle Rock are Griffiths, Partida and Andrews.
It will be the last of the track and field teams who have competed in 13 meets this season.
Among some of the seniors competing for the last time this year for the women’s side are Candelaria, Andrews and All-American Chelsea Sherier.
For the men, they will miss team captain Gilbert next season in addition to runners Partida and Griffiths.
Those expected to return next year to lead the women’s track and field teams next year include juniors Katrina McCoy, Valerie Woods, Constance Mayaki and sophomore Antoinette Borders.
For the ULV men, they should have a host of underclassmen returning headed by freshmen Kazub, Villareal and Quentin Haggerty.
Off the track, expect juniors Jon Virgin and Gabriel Garcia to lead the team next season.
The NCAA National Championships begin May 26 at the University of Wisconsin, Oshkosh.
Lauren Reed can be reached at email@example.com.