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Wayland Baptist, Azusa Pacific Men Women Claim NAIA Outdoor Championships

May 24, 2008
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May 24, 2008

ST. LOUIS, Mo. - The seasons have changed, along with the venues, but the result turned out the same at the 2008 NAIA Outdoor Track and Field National Championships, which wrapped up Saturday at Ralph Korte Stadium in Edwardsville, Ill.

The Azusa Pacific University (Calif.) men's program and the Wayland Baptist University (Texas) women's team, which had won the titles at the 2008 NAIA Indoor National Championships a little over two months ago in Johnson City, Tenn., repeated their efforts by taking the outdoor titles. This marks the first time since 1997 that the same men's and women's institutions captured both NAIA indoor and outdoor championships in the same year.

Azusa Pacific trailed by just two points heading into the final day of competition, but was bolstered by the performance on Saturday of senior Aron Rono. He won the 1,500-meter and 5,000-meter races on Saturday - in addition to taking the 10,000-meter run on Thursday -- on his way to being named the NAIA Men's Outdoor Track and Field Most Valuable Performer. The Cougars won a close race by collecting 61 points, three more than runner-up Dickinson State University (N.D.). Oklahoma Baptist University finished in third place with 55 points.

"This was a great year for us, both indoor and outdoor," said Azusa Pacific head coach Kevin Reid, who was named the 2008 NAIA Men's Outdoor Track and Field Coach of the Year. "Rono was outstanding for us, but we were consistent across the board. The guys dug out the 2002 uniforms (the last time the Cougars won indoor and outdoor in the same year) and performed well. The seniors have their indoor championship rings and wanted an outdoor one to go with it."

Wayland Baptist was tied for the team lead after Friday's events, but had climb out of an early hole when the University of British Columbia, the day two co-leader with Wayland Baptist, ran second, third and fourth in the marathon early Saturday morning. A victory in the women's 200-meter dash by Kimberly Smith helped spur the comeback for the Pioneers, who ended the competition with a total of 80 points. Simon Fraser University (B.C.) was second with 69 points, followed by British Columbia with 66 points.

"This is a great feat for us to accomplish (winning the indoor and outdoor titles) and I'm proud of our effort," said 2008 NAIA Women's Outdoor Track and Field Coach of the Year Brian Whitlock from Wayland Baptist. "It was a team effort all around, but Kim in the sprints, and Caroline (Karunde) in the distance races really stood out."

Ruky Abdulai from Simon Fraser was the women's Most Valuable Performer. Abdulai won three events at the meet, including the triple jump, high jump and high jump. She was also second in the 400-meter dash and was a member Simon Fraser's 4 x 100-meter relay team that took third.

The NAIA also awards the Outstanding Performer Award to a male and female athlete whose individual event results are exemplary. The men's winner from the 2008 meet was Michael Mason from British Columbia. Mason won the men's high jump with a leap of 2.21 meters (seven feet, three inches), which was just one centimeter shy of his own NAIA national championship meet record.

Annie Hess from Concordia University (Ore.) took the women's Outstanding Performer Award. Hess set a new NAIA championship meet record with a throw of 192 feet, seven inches. It is the seventh-best mark by an American female this year, and the effort qualifies Hess to compete in the Olympic Trials.

Other highlights from Saturday included two new NAIA championship meet records. In the women's 3,000-meter steeplechase, Dallon Williams from California State University-San Marcos pulled away for a time of 10:18.96 to top the old mark of 10:32.63 established by Andrea Mohr from Southwestern College (Kan.) in 2004. The other new NAIA mark came in the women's 5,000-meter run when Alissa McKaig of Indiana Institute of Technology turned in a time of 16:39.04. That bettered the old record of 16:44.19 set in 2005 by Oklahoma Baptist University's Miriam Kaumba.

Individually, there were four NAIA repeat national champions crowned on Saturday. Abdulai led the way with her third straight high jump title. Her winning effort was 1.75 meters (five feet, 8 ¾ inches). Other women claiming back-to-back NAIA championships include Sherene Pinnock of Oklahoma Baptist University in the 400-meter hurdles.

On the men's side, Lindenwood University's Illiyan Chamov grabbed his second consecutive triple jump title with a distance of 14.93 meters (48 feet, 11 ¾ inches). In the men's 200-meter finals, Tyrell Cuffy of King College (Tenn.) repeated with a time of 21.01 seconds.

Oklahoma Baptist won its fourth consecutive NAIA national championship in the women's 4 x 400-meter relay. The Bison covered the course in a time of 3:42.11. In the women's 4 x 100-meter relay, Wayland Baptist earned its second title in as many years. The Pioneers matched their winning effort from 2007 with a time of 46.21 seconds.

For a complete list of winners from the 2008 NAIA Men's and Women's Track and Field National Championships, please visit the NAIA website at www.naia.org.

NAIA RECORDS BROKEN - DAY THREE
Women:
EVENT                                   INDIVIDUAL                 INSTITUTION                                               RECORD

3,000-m steeplechase       Dallon Williams         California State University-San Marcos  10:32.63
5,000-meter run                   Allisa McKaig              Indiana Institute of Technology                 16:39.04