The Azusa Pacific track and field team recently returned from Albuquerque, New Mexico as they competed at the Cherry & Silver invitational hosted by the University of New Mexico.
Men’s head coach Kevin Reid described it as an “opportunity to show that we belonged in the arena.” Cherry & Silver was the team’s first meet back from last spring season, so anticipation for a good meet was expected.
Sophomore Shakiel Chattoo won his opening heat at 7.93 seconds in the 60-meter hurdles, and then again in the semifinals with a 7.88 second time. Finally, Chattoo won his final heat a 7.77 seconds, which puts him at the third best time across all collegiate levels. Even though it is the beginning of the indoor season, Chattoo already has four provisional marks for the NCAA Division II Indoor Championships in the 60-meter hurdles, 60-meter dash, long jump, and the heptathlon.
Junior Cyinna Booker, one of the team captains, described the trip as “a lot really good performances” due to the fact that it was the first time more athletes traveled together than usual. Even though the competition was fierce, Booker still keeps high goals for this season.
“I am concerned about distance, but it’s also about the opportunity to be here and use the gifts I’ve been given to compete against all different kinds of people. Distances aren’t everything. I expect to beat personal records and go to nationals but learning to relax more is my personal goal for this season,” Booker said.
Booker was extremely modest considering she was the top collegiate finisher in the long jump and also hitting qualifying marks for the triple jump. At Cherry & Silver, Booker jumped 5.94 meters (19-feet, 6-inches) in the long jump, which put her at number three on the national list of competitors, and her triple jump mark at 11.63 meters (38-feet, 2-inches) puts her at number eight nationally.
“[APU] will continue to be a serious competitor when it comes time for nationals,” junior Kyle Brown said. “It is only our third year at Division II and we’ve placed high each time nationally.”
Last season the team won the PacWest Conference Championship. Brown’s goal is to simply make an appearance at the national meet level in the 400-meter dash.
The team gained a new sprint coach when the previous coach, Nate Nasca, moved to Sports & Conditioning. The jumpers also received Laron Brown as their new jumps coach. These changes may prove to be a positive force for the team this season.
With so many changes, along with practice and traveling, Coach Reid hopes that his athletes will learn from their experience being apart of APU’s track team. “It’s all about getting the team to understand that performances on the track are directly tied to their academic, personal, and spiritual life,” Reid said.
Juggling different situations and several responsibilities can be taxing at times, but Coach Reid aims to ensure that his student athletes understand how to balance both their academics and the sport.
The team was out for four days during their trip to Albuquerque, and competed in two different meets this past weekend. Some of the athletes traveled to the Colorado Mines Division II Invitational meet, while the distance teams competed at the University of Washington Invitational. The team will return to the University of Washington for another invitational starting Feb.10 and going through to Feb. 12.