Division II Track and Field: Day Two Recap

May 27, 2005

ABILENE Texas -- It's rare when a shot-put competition brings a national track and field championship meet to a standstill.

Friday night was the rare exception as Clint Prange of Northwest Missouri State and Chris Figures and Van Mounts of Cal State-Bakersfield wowed a crowd of 3,000 at ACU's Elmer Gray Stadium with an amazing display of brute force at the NCAA Division II outdoor championship meet.

In the best men's shot put competition ever at the outdoor championship meet, Prange and Figures took turns breaking the all-time NCAA Division II best-ever mark in the event before Prange posted an incredible mark of 66 feet, 1.0 inches, the best throw ever at the Division II level.

Amazingly, Prange took the record away from Figures -- the NCAA Division II Male Athlete of the Year -- only moments after the CSUB thrower had put up a mark of 65-11.00 to put himself atop the all-time Division II rankings. Figures held the best-ever mark entering the meet (64-10.00), but it was at an indoor meet. Former ACU all-America thrower Ahmed Shata set the all-time Division II outdoor mark at 63-10.25 at the 1986 outdoor championship meet.

But both of Shata's marks -- all-time outdoor best ever and meet best-ever -- went by the wayside in a matter of a few minutes.

Mounts bettered it with his first throw (63-10.50) of the competition. That mark, however, didn't last as Prange went 64-8.50 to set the meet and outdoor best-ever. But on his next-to-last throw, Figures put it all together for the best throw ever in Division II history, posting a mark of 65-11.00.

Amazingly, however, Prange -- who won his third discus national championship on Thursday -- wouldn't be denied as he posted a 66-1.00 on the final throw of the competition to win the national championship.

Between the three men, they posted 10 legal marks and eight of them were better than 60 feet. In fact, the competition was so good that the fourth-place finisher -- Cameron Neel of Central Washington at 57-10.25 -- would have won 11 previous NCAA Division II national championships.

"I think everyone did well," Figures said. "We were all gunning for each other. There was not just one dominant person; we were all feeding off each other's marks. I was pushing for my teammate Van (Mounts, and he was pushing for me. I told myself I had to show up today. There were three of the best shot putters here tonight. Hopefully we will see each other in the future. This is not the last showdown."

But it was Prange's night, and so far, he's been the most dominant male athlete at Elmer Gray Stadium. Not bad for a guy whose back was so bad that he couldn't even defend his pair of national championships in the discus that he had won as a freshman and sophomore.

"I can't even begin to fathom this," he said. "I have always been good at the discus. I want to thank God for the ability He has given me. People always dream of hitting the last shot or making the last goal, well this was my time to step up and make the last throw. If you'd have told me I'd throw that far earlier in the year, I would have laughed at you.

"Winning the shot put was my goal coming into the event, but I knew there would be great competition," Prange said. "The top four or five guys could have won the event any other year. This was a dogfight, probably one of the best year's ever. It feels good to be able to say I finished on top of both the shot and the discus. I just knew when I let it go, it was going to be a good throw. And both mine and Chris's (Figures) would have been a great throw at any level."

Only one other time in NCAA Division II outdoor championship meet history have three men topped 60 feet in the shot put and it was back in 1997 when Andy Richardson of Indianapolis won the event (61-11.75), followed by Luke Hurst of Abilene Christian (60-10.75) and Glenn Griffin of Abilene Christian (60-1.75).

In the team championship race, the Abilene Christian men moved into solid position to defend their national championship. ACU is in first place heading into Saturday's finals with 34 points, and the Wildcats have a slew of qualifiers in the finals.

On the women's side, Cal State-Bakersfield continues to lead on the strength of its throwers, Cecilia Barnes and April Burton, with 29 points. Lincoln, the defending national champion, is fourth with 17 points, while Adams State is third with 20 points and ACU is 13th with eight.

However, Lincoln, ACU and Adams State will have finals qualifiers all over the track on Saturday, which will make it difficult for anyone to break up the trio that finished 1-2-3 last year.

On the men's side, ACU moved into the team lead when it got 18 big points in the triple jump from Yevgen Pashchenko (second at 51-8.50), Ben Washington (Third at 51-0.75) and Vladyslav Gorbenko (fifth at 49-10.50). ACU leads Adams State by six points in the team race, while ACU's traditional rival, St. Augustine's, lurks in ninth with 10 points. The Falcons, however, will be a threat with their own handful of finals qualifiers.

Albany State junior Brandon Roulhac won the triple jump with a mark of 52-1.75 to overtake Pashchenko, the defending national champion and reigning indoor long jump champion.

"My goal was to jump 54 feet and qualify for the U.S. outdoor championships," Roulhac said. "I didn't reach my goal, but winning a national championship is great."

In the men's pole vault, Missouri Southern junior Matt Campbell set a personal-best and new school record en route to winning the national title with a mark of 17-2.75. ACU's Cory Aguilar was fourth with a vault of 16-6.75. His wife, Angie, is one of three Wildcats in Saturday's women's pole vault competition.

"It's exciting," Campbell said of his national title. "A lot of work went into this all year. I was bummed about the weather, because with the crosswind, it caused a lot of guys to no height. It's not typical good vaulting weather, but still, I had a good day (setting a personal and school record). I knew I could do it, but there was a lot of tough competition here."

An Elmer Gray Stadium record fell in the women's 3000 meters when Western State's five-time national champion, Alisha Williams, sprinted past the field to win the race in 9:28.00, edging out ACU's Olha Kryv'yak, who finished at 9:32.83 to give the ACU women their only eight points heading into Saturday's final.

"It's my fifth championship, but it gets more exciting every time," Williams said. "My goal was to not let a gap happen, to not get a lapse in concentration and counter every move in the race, which is easier said than done."

In the women's high jump, Albany State freshman Lavern Spencer out-dueled defending national champion Nikki Hill of Clark-Atlanta to win the national crown. Spencer put up a mark of 6-1.25 to beat Hill (6-0.00) by more than one inch.

"I'm a little disappointed because I was expecting to clear 6-4," said Spencer, who entered with a best of 6-3.50. "I know I could have done better, but I'm very happy to have won the national championship."

In the decathlon, Chris Randolph of Seattle Pacific came back from a 347-point first-day deficit to overtake Lincoln's Deosma Wright for the national championship.

Wright had 4,072 points after the first day of competition to 3,725 for Randolph and 3,720 to Ron Jett of Indiana-Pa. Wright was able to maintain his lead with a win in the 110-meter hurdles (14.31) and discus trow (158-6.00). But he only cleared 10-0.00 in the pole vault (369 points), while Randolph went 14-3.25 for 716 points, pulling to within less than 300 points.

But Wright pushed his lead back over the 300-point mark in the javelin throw with a toss of 176-10 (647 points) to a 172-10 effort (628 points) for Randolph. Wright had to stay within 52 seconds of Randolph in the final event of the competition -- the 1500 meters -- to retain first place and win the national championship, but he couldn't do it.

Wright fell to last place almost immediately in the race, and that's where he finished, turning in a time of 5:32.53 for 387 points. Randolph, meanwhile, cruised home in 4:29.88, good enough for second place, 745 points and the national championship with 7,309 total points. Wright finished with 7,245 points in only the fourth decathlon of his career.

"It was such a great competition," Randolph said. "I knew he (Decosmo Wright) was going to have a great first day and it would probably come down to the last three events. Talking to my coach going into the 1500 I knew I had to beat him by about a minute. I just had to go out and do it. It was a great bunch of guys to compete with and encourage each other throughout the two days."

Anastassia Kyvelido of Nebraska-Omaha broke away from a packed heptathlon grouping to win the national championship with a strong second-day performance. Kyvelido trailed Seattle Pacific's Danielle Ayers-Stam by just 69 points going into Friday's final three events of the event.

Kyvelido won the long jump and the javelin (148-11.0) before finishing third in the 800 meters to Lori Pitts of Central Missouri State to put together a 2,447-point day, good enough to beat Ayers-Stam by 174 points (5,780-5,606).

Kyvelido had personal-bests in the javelin, 100 hurdles (13.78) and the 800 meters (2:21.40) during the meet, and her final score of 5,780 points is fourth-best all-time in NCAA Division II. The score is also a stadium record and it qualifies Kyvelido -- a former member of the Greek junior team -- for the Greek national team.

"I was expecting the worst and best at the same time," Kyvelido said. "I had a little bit of nervousness because of my injuries (elbow), but I got in and did the best I could. I was really happy with my first throw in the javelin, and my first jump in the long jump was very good."

-- Courtesy Abilene Christian