Southern Oregon men claim Cascade Conference title
NAMPA, Idaho — The Southern Oregon University men controlled the track this weekend, and now the Raiders control the Cascade Collegiate Conference. Again.
The Raiders claimed three more running events Saturday at the CCC Track and Field Championships, allowing them to maintain a slim edge over favorite and second-ranked Concordia for their second straight conference title. SOU led by 82/3 points after Friday's first batch of events and finished with 188 to the Cavaliers' 1832/3.
Cameron Bremner, a freshman sprinter from Tigard, pulled off consecutive upsets to win the 100- and 200-meter sprints, giving him three titles after he assisted SOU's 4x100-meter relay team's school-record effort on Friday.
The scales tipped, however, when Eric Avila, the Men's Athlete of the Meet, won the 5,000 meters — a race the SOU coaching staff hadn't planned on putting him in until late Friday. Avila, who won the 1,500-meter race on Friday, started the second day of competition by placing second in the 800 meters with a personal-best time of 1 minute, 50.83 seconds. Less than an hour later he labored through the 5K, clocking a time of 14:42.11 that was more than a minute over his best but two-tenths of a second better than Eastern Oregon's DJ Flores, whom Avila had to rally to catch over the final mile.
Avila was the only runner to race both the 800 and 5K.
"He was outstanding," SOU head coach Grier Gatlin said. "That 800 was basically a national championship preview, and for him to turn around right after that and do what he did in the 5K was unbelievable."
The SOU women also had an eventful day. Amelia Maguin broke a couple of her own records in defending her 400-meter hurdles title, while Rebecca Lupescu, Stephanie Techler and the 4x400-meter relay team all put forth runner-up showings to help the Raiders score 109.5 team points — just missing Concordia's 110 and their first top-three finish since 2005. Still, the Raiders have now finished fourth while exceeding 100 points in consecutive seasons after not having done it once since placing second in 2005. It was a far cry from what they did two years ago, when they racked up just 66 points.
Gatlin was named the CCC Men's Coach of the Year for the second straight season.
The Raiders now have seven CCC men's titles, matching Concordia for the most since the meet's 1995 inception. The Cavaliers won theirs consecutively before SOU ended the run in 2013.
SOU did it this time despite netting exactly zero points from the pole vault, shot put, discus and javelin — competitions in which Concordia amassed 74 points.
But after Jonz Olander (400), Eric Ghelfi (10,000), Avila (1,500) and the 4x100-meter relay team delivered wins on Friday, there was plenty more to celebrate on the track Saturday.
Bremner's time of 10.78 seconds in the 100-meter dash was a PR by a hundredth of a second, fourth-best in SOU history and better than runner-up Ka'imi Scott of Warner Pacific by six-hundredths of a second. Olander, whose time of 10.92 seconds won the race last year, placed fourth in 10.96 and Kermit Knight scored in seventh (11.14).
In the 200, Bremner outdid his previous best by .38 seconds in 21.60, giving him an NAIA 'B' standard qualifying mark and the second-fastest time in SOU history. Olander, who also won that event in 2013, contributed six points in third (21.86).
"Jonz is no slouch, so for Cameron to beat him twice — holy cow, he was good," Gatlin said. "He was so sharp for a freshman; not panicked at all and just totally focused."
Even though Avila hit a PR in the 800, he couldn't catch Eastern Oregon's Hans Roelle, who set a meet record with a time of 1:49.76. SOU's Kevin Jorgensen was also third in the race, though, finishing with a PR of 1:51.21 to make him fifth in SOU history.
"Kevin sneaking up to get third and bump Concordia's guys to fourth and fifth was really when it started to turn around for us," Gatlin said. "Kevin had a great day, and that was huge."
Avila's effort was just the highlight of a 5,000-meter race in which the Raiders racked up 22 points. Jared Hixon placed fourth (14:59.24), Cary Dunagan fifth (15:13.03) and Aaron Brenton sixth (15:27.46).
Devan Barkley chipped in a fourth-place showing in the 400-meter hurdles — he was also third Friday in the 110-meter hurdles — and the Raiders clinched their win when the 4x400-meter relay team took third (3:19.03) in the final event of the day. Bremner, Jorgensen, Barkley and Olander made up the quartet.
Sam Hartinger and Anthony Neal gave the Raiders their only field points of the day in the triple jump. Hartinger, the defending champ in the event, placed second with a mark of 45 feet, 31/2 inches, and Neal's 43-31/4 was good for fourth.
"To go in and be a 15- to 20-point underdog on paper, it goes to show that when these kind of meets are close, every detail is so important," Gatlin said.
Concordia's Darien Moore was named the Field Athlete of the Meet after setting new meet records in the shot put (63-4 1/2) and hammer (211-8) and placing second in the discus.
Eastern Oregon claimed third place (112 points) and College of Idaho was fourth (97).
In the women's meet, Maguin, a junior from Fernley, Nev., had her hand in 36 points between the heptathlon, both hurdle races, both relays, the long jump and the 100-meter dash. Her shining moment occurred in the 400-meter hurdles as she replaced her previous meet (1:01.35) and school (1:00.31) records with a victory that took 59.63 seconds and was almost three seconds better than the runner-up.
Maguin also established a personal-best in the 100-meter race with a time of 12.47 seconds to place fifth despite being in the slow heat. Then she anchored SOU's 4x400-meter relay team — it also included Aspen Abbott, Tierra Barrett and Jessie Rozario — which placed second in 3 minutes, 56.37 seconds for a time that stands at the 15th-best in the NAIA and could qualify for the NAIA Championships.
"It's kind of surprising that she didn't get Athlete of the Meet because she was outstanding," Gatlin said of Maguin. "She ran great legs in both relays and her individual times speak for themselves."
Techler's second-place mark in the pole vault of 11 feet, 53/4 inches was even better than the mark that won it for her last year. Alex Morris was fourth in the event, reaching 10-6.
In the 5,000-meter race, Lupescu improved from fifth place in 2013 to second by finishing in 18:21.39, and Alexandra Rudd chipped in three points by taking sixth (19:10.68).