Track hits NCAA qualifying marks

Campus Times
April 16, 2004

by Jamie Mahoney
Staff Writer

In the last two meets, in San Luis Obispo and Azusa, the University of La Verne track team has qualified several athletes to go to the NCAA national competition in June.

At the Azusa Pacific Meet of Champions Saturday, the women’s team qualified two athletes for nationals.

Senior Amy Smith qualified in javelin (135’ 2”) and junior Lakia Sims in the long jump (18’ 4 1/2”).

“It is cool to come out and qualify,” said Smith, who was also named Southern California Intercollegiate Athlete Conference Female Athlete of the Week for the week ending April 11. “I really didn’t expect it. I was just coming out to get points for the team.”

Some of the highlights from the weekend include spectacular performances by sophomore Erica Pembleton in the hammer throw and sophomore Blaine Bacher in the 400-meter hurdles.

“The competition at this meet was good since anyone can come to open meets,” head coach Pat Widolff said. “We had a lot of individuals do very well.”

The other major qualifying meet the Leopards competed in was the California State Championships, held in San Luis Obispo April 3-4.

A number of athletes had season’s best performances at this meet. Junior Ellen Soakai set a new school record in the discus with a throw of 141 feet.

Junior James Chambless ran his season best in the 400-meter hurdles with a time of 55.01 seconds.

Senior Eric Thomas and Bacher were also named to the All-State team.

Thomas placed eighth overall in the 200 meter dash with a time of 22.61 and Bacher placed seventh overall in the 400 meter dash with a time of 49.47.

“It was a sour sweet victory,” Thomas said. “I’ve done it four years in a row and I wanted to do a lot better.”

Sims, with her stellar performance, also qualified for nationals in the triple jump (38’ 4 3/4”).

In addition to those who qualified the past two weekends, there are a number of other athletes who have already qualified for nationals.

Among them are senior Lisa Mila in javelin, juniors Ellen Soakai in discus and Gerlaine Kiamco in the hammer throw as well as Lori Waters in the shot-put.

The team has its last scored conference competition tomorrow and Sunday at Occidental College.