Azusa Pacific, Wayland Baptist Crowned NAIA Track Champs by Narrow Margins
March 8, 2008
Azusa Pacific captured the men's crown, beating
Junior Aron Rono led Azusa Pacific to championship, their sixth in the past 13 years, by winning a pair of events Saturday, the men's mile (4:09.46), for the second straight year, and the 3,000 meters (8:17.87). He then anchored the Cougars to victory in the distance medley relay (10:04.37), rallying the quartet from fifth place when he took the baton to what proved to be the national-championship clinching victory.
In the subsequent and final event of the meet, the 4x400-meter relay, Oklahoma Baptist had to finish at least in second place to overcome Azusa Pacific in team title race, but the Bison finished third (3:13.51), missing second-place and the national championship by just .46 of a second.
"As stressful as it is, that's just the best way to win a national championship," said Azusa Pacific coach Kevin Reid, who was named the NAIA Men's Indoor Track & Field Coach of the Year. "It tests you and it tests the kids when it comes down to matching performance-for-performance in every event with another quality team like OBU."
Dickinson State University (N.D.) finished third with 55 points, and
Wayland Baptist, on the other hand, capped an all-day see-saw battle with Azusa Pacific in the women's title chase by getting the necessary second-place finish (3:48.95) and the eight team points that come with it in the 4x400, edging third-place
"I'm really happy for our girls," said Wayland Baptist's Brian Whitlock, the 2008 NAIA Women's Indoor Track & Field Coach of the Year. "They've really worked hard and finally got it done. My palms were a little sweaty on that 4x4 but I knew we had a very good anchor leg in Kimberly."
Simon Fraser University (B.C.) finished third with 59 points, while Oklahoma Baptist came in fourth with 47 points.
Rono was named the Male Outstanding Performer of the Meet. Senior Ruky Abdulai of Simon Fraser was selected as Female Outstanding Performer, winning the long jump (21' 1¼") and high jump (5' 8¾") while finishing second in the 60 meters (7.46). She also anchored SFU to a fourth-place finish in the 4x400 relay (3:51.15).