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Lenny Padilla | | May 25, 2014

Padilla: Cato and Bolt are fast friends

  Cato competed in the 2012 Olympics and held the fastest time in the world this year in the 400 hurdles.

ALLENDALE, Mich. -- When Saint Augustine’s hurdler Roxroy Cato needs a little motivation, all he has to do is play video games with one of his friends.

Of course when one of your friends is the fastest man on earth, that doesn’t hurt.

“Last time I spoke to him, we were playing Call of Duty online,” Cato said of Jamaican world record holder Usain Bolt. “I said to him ‘I’m going to school here [at Saint Augustine’s) and he’s like ‘whatever, whatever let’s just play.’”

Cato, a native of St. Mary’s, Jamaica, competed in the 2012 Olympics in London and held the fastest time in the world this year in the 400 hurdles after he ran a 48.67 at the Florida Relays on April 4. It has since been topped by American Olympian Michael Tinsley with a time of 48.57.

On Saturday at the 2014 NCAA Division II Men’s and Women’s Outdoor Track and Field Championships, Cato helped Saint Augustine's capture the Division II national championship with 112 points.

The Falcons have now won 14 national titles under head coach George Williams.

“Each one feels different,” Williams said, who is in his 38th year coaching. “Five of those kids right there graduated last week and [Saturday] they get to win a title. Seeing them win and graduate, it doesn’t get much better than that.”

Adam's State finished a distant second with 67 points, followed by Ashland with 53 points in third place.

Cato, 26, said it isn’t easy being on top. He doesn’t usually have anyone to push him.

“I haven’t really gotten that push yet that I need,” he said. “When I come off a turn, usually I am by myself. When I ran in Florida, it wasn’t even close. But I had that push because people in that race had times of like 49 seconds.”

It helps, however, coming from a nation of great sprinters.

“It’s motivation,” he said of running for Jamaica. “You see everyone around you do good so it makes you want to do good.”

Of course knowing Usain Bolt helps, too.

“I know him personally from high school, so it’s like seeing him do good. … I know where he’s coming from, so I can do good as well,” Cato said, who competed against Bolt when they were in high school. Since then, they have been teammates in national competitions.

“We speak about track in general and what it takes to be on top and what it takes to stay on top,” Cato, who hopes to qualify for the Commonwealth Games in Scotland this summer, said.

After that, he plans to graduate from Saint Augustine’s, a historically black university in Raleigh, North Carolina, with a degree in English and a minor in education. He started his collegiate career at Lincoln (Mo). But transferred to work with coach Williams.

“George Williams is the greatest hurdles coach of all time,” Cato said. “I was looking for somewhere to go [to school] and I saw him at the Olympics and he’s like ‘come to our school,’”

“I said ‘OK’! He’s a good coach. I’m happy I’m here.”

Cato didn’t set a record on Saturday, but he did win the 400 hurdles with a time of 49.75.

“I’m very pleased,” Cato who was also part of his team’s win in the 1,600 relay with a time of 3:06.84, said. “It means every thing for me to stay undefeated in outdoor this year and to win the national title.”

“He didn’t know how good he was when he got here,” Williams said with a laugh.

It may have been the best move of his career. Now he’s focused on the ultimate goal.

“My goal is to make it back to the Olympics and do better than I did before,” Cato, who finished fifth in his heat with a time of 49.03, said.

So did he beat Bolt at Call of Duty?

“No,” he said with a laugh.

Can you beat him in anything?

“The hurdles,” Cato said. “He doesn’t do hurdles. I’m not gonna say he can’t do it, but I don’t think he can beat me because I train to do it.”

Jeff Piepenbrink was so nervous that he couldn’t watch Jordan Yamoah’s final attempt.

“I stood over there by my coach and didn’t watch,” the Pittsburg State junior Piepenbrink said of watching the reigning champ fail at his final attempt. “I waited to hear the ‘awww’ from the crowd.’”

Then he went nuts.

Piepenbrink won the national championship with a leap of 17-4 1/2 (5.30m) after he cleared on his first attempt.

“It feels amazing,” he said of hearing his name on the podium as national champion. “I said ‘that sounds good, can you say that again?’”

Yamoah, of Texas A&M-Kingsville, and Bret Myers of host Grand Valley State tied for second place with the same height as Piepenbrink.

“I qualified for this meet in the hurdles,” Piepenbrink said. “But I decided not to do it so that I could try to win a national championship.”

Myers, a redshirt junior, was cheered by his home crowd as if he won the title.

“Not only in front of my home crowd, but at the national meet, it feels awesome,” he said. What great support.”

Myers finished 9th at last year’s meet.

He got a hug from teammate Kristen Hixson, who won the women’s pole vault championship with a Division II record earlier in the meet.

“She gave me a big hug and said she’s so proud of me,” Myers said. “That’s a feeling that goes both ways. We’ve had a deal over the last four meets that ‘If you do it, I do it.’ She finally did it [won the title], so I had to hold up my end of the deal.”

Coming into the meet, Piepenbrink’s PR was 17-1.5 when he finished second during the indoor finals to Yamoah. Myers was tied as the No. 7 seed with a season-best 16-8.75 (5.10m).

David Reinhardt won his first national championship in the javelin with a throw of 225-10 feet (68.83m). A sophomore from Slippery Rock, Reinhardt had his winning toss on this third attempt.

It was a PR for Reinhardt and the third-best time in Division II this season. Nash Howe, who came in as the No. 1 seed, has the best throw of the year (229-3 / 69.88m).

Franz Burghagen, of Alaska Anchorage finished second with a throw of 222-7 (67.84m). That was the leading throw until Reinhardt topped it. Humboldt State’s Matthew Horsfall was third (216-7 / 66.02m).

Christopher Reed us used to being atop the podium.

A Minnesota State-Mankato senior, Reed has won 11 national titles during his career, but it doesn’t make any of them any less sweet.

Reed won the shot put on his final attempt with a throw of 65-4 3/4 (19.93m) to win his 11th national title and back-to-back championships at the Division II finals.

“First place never gets old,” he said. “I’ve had a very fulfilling career at MSU and this just caps it off.”

“It was pretty cool to win it on my last throw,” he said. “I was pretty calm though.”

Wesley Lavong of Adams State was second with a throw of 62-7 3/4 (19.09m) and Frank Catelli of Western Washington was third (60-10 1/2 /18.55m).

A Saint Augustine’s team of Daniel Jamelson, Taffewee Johnson, Burkheart Ellis Jr. and Jermaine Jones helped the Falcons win the first relay of the day with a time of 39.42 seconds. Lincoln was second (39.85) and Virginia Union third (40.05).

The fastest man at the meet, and in Division II is unquestionably Tim Price. A junior from Texas A&M-Kingsville, he won both the 100 and 200 meter runs on Saturday.

“It’s the greatest feeling in the world,” Price said. “Those guys from Saint Augustine’s are really fast, so it was great competition out there today.”

Price won the 100 with a time of 10.185, narrowly beating Taffawee Johnson, a senior from Saint Augustine’s (10.186). Romel Lewis, a senior from Lincoln, was third in 10.21, and Kyran Stewart, a junior from Albany State, was fourth (10.33).

Price won the 200 with a time of 20.75, beating out Joshua Edmonds, a senior from Saint Augustine’s (20.78). In third place was Jermaine Jones in 20.83.

Drew Windle was happy to defend his national title in the 800, but he didn’t seem thrilled with the time.

“There’s always something about every national championship that’s special,” he said. “But it’s always nice to come back and defend your title.”

Windle, who won with a time of 1:48.32, has the best time in Division II coming into the race with a blazing 1:46.91.

“It’s always good to see all the guys in this race,” he said. “And it’s always good to represent our conference, which I think is one of the best in the nation. It’s good to see four guys from the GLIAC in the finals.”

One of those GLIAC runners is Ethan Barnes, a redshirt sophomore from host Grand Valley State. Barnes, the GVSU record holder in the 800, finished fifth with an outdoor best 1:49.58.

“With those guys, they are the best DII guys in the country,” said Barnes of the 800, which also included his teammate Jeremy Wilk, a senior from Wood Dale, Ill., finished sixth with a personal best 1:49.60.

In seventh place was Dillon Webster, the GLIAC indoor champ from Findlay, who finished with a time of 1:49.74. In second place was Robin Butler, a sophomore from Western State in 1:48.50 and Luis Romero, a sophomore from Kingsville, was third (1:48.74). “I think I make them better and I think they make me better,” Windle said.

A Saint Augustine’s team of Daniel Jamelson, Taffewee Johnson, Burkheart Ellis, Jr. and Jermaine Jones helped the Falcons win the first relay of the day with a time of 39.42 seconds. Lincoln was second (39.85) and Virginia Union third (40.05).

Behind Roxroy Cato, who won in 49.75, was Jermel Kindred, a senior from Indianapolis, who was second in 50.75. In third was Hillsdale junior Maurice Jones in 50.82.

5,000 METERS
Kevin Batt entered the meet as the No. 2 seed and left as the champion.

A senior from Adams State, he won the 5,000 in 13:59.22, which isn’t a personal best, but it was good enough to win. He beat out Tabor Stevens, a junior and a teammate at Adams State, who finished in 13:59.96. Stevens won the 3,000 steeplechase on Thursday. In third place was Southern Indiana sophomore Johnnie Guy in 14:00.76. 

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