The Commerce Journal


May 27, 2014

Lions show off skills at track and field nationals

ALLENDALE, Mich. — The 2014 NCAA Championships saw the Lions earn nine All-American honors while on their way to finish tied for 12th with Southern Indiana with 19 team points over the course of the three days of competition.

The Lions set new school records in the Javelin, Pole Vault, 4x400m relay and the 800m (both men and women). The 19 points for the Lions are the most the team has scored at the national meet since 42 points back in 1986.

“I am very proud of the way the kids competed. I think all of our kids finished higher than they were seeded,” Head Coach Tom Dibbern said. “I don’t remember many national meets where everyone walked away with an All-American, like our men did. Even though Brikel [Bailey] didn’t advance to the final, she still ran a lifetime best and broke the school record [2:10.19 in the 800m]. I think their performances speak for themselves. It is something that we will build on for the future.”

Luis Romero closed down the stretch of the men’s 800m to secure a third place finish and a fifth All-America honor for the Lions this weekend. Romero crushed his previous school record (1:50.13) in the process by running a 1:48.74. Romero, the number one qualifier, ran 1.68 seconds faster in the final but saw Drew Windle of Ashland run a 1:48.32 to claim the NCAA title.

“It was a good race.,” Romero said. “I just kind wanted to put myself in a good position with 150m to go and get myself to the outside. With 50m to go I actually thought I was going to win the thing as I saw the guys getting closer and closer. Maybe if I started a little earlier then maybe I would have caught them.”

The men’s 4x400m relay team of John David Rollins, Anthony Harris, Dexter Lee and Adam Gary earned All-America honors by finishing in eighth place with a new school record time of 3:09.37. Harris earned his second All-America honor after earning recognition on Thursday with his fifth place finish in the Lone Jump.

St. Augustine’s won the 4x400m with a time of 3:06.84. The Falcons also won the men’s team title with 112 points.

Lee afterwards on how it feels to be an All-American: “Blessed.” Harris added, “Awesome”.

“Everyone ran their fastest splits 46s and 47s, everyone did great,” Rollins said.

K’Don Samuels earned the fourth All-American honor with his fourth place in the Pole Vault. In the process setting a new school record after clearing 5.30m. His record heading into today was a 5.07m jump from the West Kittley Invitational back in April. Samuels broke the mark on his last three cleared heights.

Samuels cleared 5.30m on his last attempt to continue on with three other competitors. None of the four remaining competitors cleared the bar when it was set to 5.40m so the order of finish was determined by who cleared the height of 5.30m in the fewest attempts. Jeff Piepenbrink of Pittsburg State (Kan.) won the NCAA crown after clearing 5.30m on his first attempt. Bret Myers of Grand Valley State (Mich.) and Jordan Yamoah of A&M-Kingsville finished in a tie for second ahead of Samuels in fourth.

“I feel good about hitting 5.30m,” Samuels said. “I could have cleared 5.40m but was tired after starting earlier in the competition because everything was just weird. Was not moving through the poles like I normally do.”

Hendrik Nungess earned the Lions first All-American honor of the day after he finished in seventh place in the Javelin. Nungess’ best throw came one his last attempt when he posted a new school record of 64.03m. The seventh place finish scored two points for the Lion men.

Nungess had set school records on two of his prior five throws in the competition and solidified his seventh place spot with his 64.03m throw on his final attempt. David Reinhardt of Slipper Rock (Pa.) is the 2014 Champion with a best of 68.83m on the afternoon.

“Feel pretty. It had been a long time since I threw that far,” Nungess said. “Yeah, I definitely [felt pressure on sixth throw]. The other competitors kept getting closer and closer and coach told me I need to throw a little further to secure my standing.”

On the second day of competition Matt Rich earned his All-America honor by finishing in eighth place in the Decathlon with a new personal best of 7,006 points.

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