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Men Get on the Fast Track @ Berea Invitational

“Competitors win sometimes, winners win most times, but champions perform every time,” said Nick Citizen of the Berea College Men’s Track and Field Team.

Champions perform at Berea College Invitational

Citizen coined this motivational phrase in honor of his teammates’ “heart and competitiveness.” Citizen’s inspiring words apparently spurred his teammates to victory as the men took first place at the Second Annual Berea College Track & Field Small College State Championship Invitational.

After finishing third at the Centre College Invitational on March 4, Berea was out to prove that they are indeed champions. The men racked up a total of 224 points in 21 events, beating out five other Kentucky teams, including their rivals at Centre by nearly 30 points.

While not every athlete won his event, each man performed well and contributed to the team’s home victory. Sophomore Andrew Nash, who set a personal record in the Discus Throw at the Centre meet, was unable to repeat the win. Nash recovered, though, to steal the top spot in the Shot Put and second place in the Hammer Throw. Although he didn’t dominate the throwing events, Nash happily accepted his points and graciously praised the competition. “Cody Brooks of Lindsey Wilson has improved a lot since last year in his throwing,” he said. “I have to commend him for his performance in both the hammer and discus as he did what it took to get the victories. I hope to see him in the future when I have finally gotten in the groove of things.” Throwers Adam Bohannon and Solomon Metcalf ranked third and fourth, respectively, behind Nash in the Hammer Throw, while Al Onyekaba placed fourth in the Discus Throw.

Just like throwers, Berea’s jumpers gave an impressive performance. After a significant hiatus, senior Matt Dalton returned to the track team and didn’t miss a beat. “It was my first track meet in two years,” he said, “so my only goal was survival.” Dalton survived and then some as he won first place in the pole vault, then later competed in the 400-Meter Hurdles.

Berea athletes owned the High Jump event as freshman Jeff Bowling landed in first place with sophomores Brett Newton and Joe Eckert following in second and third place. Bowling and Eckert also took the top two spots in the 110-Meter Hurdles and the placed in the top-four in the 400-Meter Hurdles. Freshman Kareem Holden, who ranked tenth in the nation in the Triple Jump his senior year of high school, once again placed second in the event for Berea.

Berea’s sprinters gave the competition a run for their money as senior LaRon Yow finished in third place in both the 200 and 400-Meter dashes. Citizen placed third in the 100-Meter dash, despite suffering from intense shin pains. Berea’s 4x100, 4x400 and 4x800-Meter Relay teams rounded out the sprinting events with finishes in either second or third place.

For junior David Webster, the meet provided an opportunity to demonstrate his athletic versatility. Webster, who hopes to break the school record in the 800-Meter dash after falling less than a half-second shy last season, took first place in both the 800 and 1500-Meter Dashes. Webster also tried his hand at the triple jump, long jump, and pole vault to “score points for [the] team and to have some fun doing different things.” Despite his inexperience, Webster earned an impressive second place in the pole vault and third place in the triple jump. “I am happy with how I performed today,” he said, “but ultimately I am not even close to where I should be or my personal bests.” Webster is counting on the stiff competition at the upcoming NCAA meets to help improve his performance.

Webster’s fellow distance runners Shawn Jakubowski and Brandon Hurley came in third and fourth place, respectively, in the 800-Meter Dash, and second and third place in the 1500-Meter Dash. Sophomore Paul Winker place second in the 10K Run, improving upon his previous time by 30 seconds.

Coach Mike Johnson was pleased with his team’s performance as they accomplished his main goal for the meet: “to win!” The victory was extra sweet for Johnson, however, as several of the coaches of the opposing schools were his former athletes. Lisa Owens, head coach at Centre College, once held nine school records in track at Berea. A 2004 graduate of Berea and four-year member of the cross-country and track teams, Jamie Jimison is currently the head coach of the newly-reinstated track program at Union College. Edwin Hagans of Lindsey Wilson College was also a four-year letter winner at Berea, as well as a former assistant coach. Johnson was excited to watch his men perform so well against his own protégés and have several athletes “hit the qualifying marks” for the upcoming overnight trip.

The men hope to retain their “champion” status as they travel to Emory University in Atlanta, GA on March 24-25. LaRon Yow especially hopes to harness the team's intensity and turn it into another victory. Yow says, “We're hungry right now and I like that. I just hope we stay that way because if we work together and remember that we are running, throwing, and jumping for the team, then we will always win.”

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