Abilene Christian Athletics

LUBBOCK -- Here's a thorough look at how ACU's men's and women's track and field teams performed this weekend at Lubbock, provided by Don Garrett, ACU's Director of Major Gifts and longtime ACU track and field fan.

Garrett will be providing frequent reports on the ACU track and field teams throughout the season:

Eyewitness Report from Lubbock

Good weekend for the Wildcat track team in Lubbock this past Friday-Saturday. It was a huge meet -- more than 800 total athletes and the Wildcats were in the thick of many events at a meet that had seve NCAA DI schools in attendance. Several new national qualifiers, including 2 automatic qualifiers (the field for each event at the national event is filled by taking the automatic qualifiers and then filling out the group from the pool of provisional qualifiers). In looking at the weekend, one needs to look first at the qualifiers from this past weekend:

* Senior Desmond Jackson looks in peak form running an automatic qualifying time and personal record (PR) of 6.23 in the 55, plus running a strong open 400 time of 49.06, also a PR for Desmond in an event that he rarely runs. He looks ready for a phenomenal senior campaign.
* Senior Amos Sang won the mile in a PR time of 4:08.28 that adjusts to an automatic qualifying time of 4:05.82 when the Lubbock altitude is calculated in. This is the best race that Amos has run while at ACU indoors - he usually runs much better outdoors. Amos is also looks ready for a sterling final track season at ACU.
* Junior Nick Jones threw well in the shot put, improving on his previous provisional qualifying throw with this week's 57-9.5. Nick looks ready to throw over 60 feet sooner rather than later.
* Senior Ramon Sparks had a provisional triple jump of 49-3.75, well short of his PR of 53, but he had at least 2 jumps that looked around 52 feet where he fouled on his takeoff by no more than an inch. He will jump 52-53 feet soon.
* Junior transfer Paris Robertson got his first provisional qualifying time of 6.37 in the 55. Paris will be a terrific addition to the team in 2011 and will help Desmond Jackson tremendously on the sprint relay once the outdoor season begins.
* Junior transfer Karla Hope also got her first provisional qualifying time of 57.32 in the 400.
* The newest French addition to the ACU track team, Amanda Ouedraogo, jumped the first time this past weekend and she had a provisional qualifying distance of 38-4.25 in the triple jump.

Some of the other excellent performances were not necessarily national qualifying, but represent several athletes who are closing in on qualifying marks or had PR marks. Some of these include:

* The strong ACU multi-event corps all look ready for their first indoor heptathlon (7 events over 2 day). The group is made up of the "old-timer" Parker Petty (3rd in the LSC decathlon in 2010), Caleb Gregory, Matthew Stark (an Abilene native who transferred to ACU from the Colorado School of Mines) and Levi Gates, the former ACU basketballer who has moved to the track team and is improving by leaps and bounds - pun intended. This group will be compete in their first heptathlon in Albuquerque in 2 weeks and I think you will see some national qualifying totals that weekend from them.
* Speaking of the ACU multi-eventers, the women have three freshmen heptathletes who should have excellent ACU careers ahead of them. All three have looked good in the early indoor meets. The women's group include Kelti Rippenhagen, Leslie White, and Michelle Ratliff (who was injured and did not compete this past weekend). I think you will see some national qualifying performances from them in Albuquerque as well.
* The men's 3,000 run was also a good event for ACU, but it is not a national meet event, so there is no way to compare the marks to national qualifying times. Senior Cleophas Tanui ran a PR of 8:53.09. Sophomore Will Pike has seen huge improvement in the past year and ran a excellent time of 8:57.81 in winning the 2nd section of the 3K. Freshmen Erik Forrister ran well for the 2nd week in a row with a 9:18.97, Gary Duncan improved 30 seconds with a 9:38.32, and Soren Thompson also improved a few seconds to a 10:01.91.
* Seniors Jessica Sloss and Paige Newby (the defending national champ in the discus throw outdoors) are both closing in on provisional qualifying throws in the indoor weight throw. What is the weight throw, you say? Imagine you put a shot put in a handbag - that it what it looks like.
* Sophomores Jordan Geary and Lauren Adkinson both are closing in on qualifying times in the 400 with Jordan running a 49.36 on the men's side and Lauren a 1:00.55 on the women's side. Both of them will be key members of their respective 4X400 relays.
* Nice weekend for junior Milo Parsons who had PR's in both the shot put and weight throw.
* Sophomores Cassie Brooks in the 55 hurdles (8.47 this weekend) and Sydney Smith in the 55 (PR of 7.31) are very close to national qualifying and are both looking far ahead of their freshmen seasons.
* Junior hurdler Michael Rasor has run PR's each of the past 2 weekends and is close to national qualifying status.
* Sophomore Chloe Susset ran well in the mile in winning the 2nd section of the mile -- I wish she could run in the 1st section, since her time beat over half of the 1st section competitors.

The Wildcats head to Albuquerque this next weekend for the New Mexico Collegiate Invitational, to be run on the same track as the national indoor meet in March. It will be great experience for all of the national qualifiers. Expect to see more national marks in Albuquerque as the team begins to focus on the national meet.