EDITOR’S NOTE: This is one of a series of posts recapping the top stories in Oklahoma Christian athletics during the 2013 calendar year.
OKLAHOMA CITY (Dec. 29, 2013) – Thanks in good part to Brayden Barrientez putting on one of the most impressive individual showings in Oklahoma Christian track and field history, the Eagles made a memorable debut at the National Christian College Athletic Association Indoor Championships in February.
Barrientez had a hand in earning a whopping 30 team points in four events and led OC to a national title in the distance medley relay as the Eagles took fourth place in the meet, performances that were No. 3 on the list of top stories in OC athletics in 2013.
Before the NCCAA indoor meet in Marion, Ind., Barrientez already had fashioned an impressive career. The senior from Wichita, Kan., had earned NAIA or NCCAA All-America status six times in cross country and track and been a part of two national-title teams in cross country. Still, he chose to test himself at the NCCAA meet by competing in four events, even though three of them would be run the same day.
On a Friday night, he anchored an OC team that won the school’s seventh national title in the distance medley relay – but its first since 1984. The foursome of Roberto Diaz, Ryan Lutterloh, Nick Stoots and Barrientez shattered the NCCAA record in the event with a time of 10:15.92. Barrientez took the lead on the seventh lap of his 1,600-meter leg and coasted to the finish line.
The next day, he began by running a physically taxing 1:55 anchor leg in the 4x800-meter relay and nearly made up a 35-meter gap, closing within a step at the finish line to give OC second place with a time of 7:30.66.
Next up was the mile, a little more than an hour later. A slow pace in that race hurt Barrientez’s chances and he was passed by two runners on the final turn, but he hung on for a third-place finish in 4:22.15.
Then came the 800 meters and Barrientez again finished third with a time of 1:57.11 – giving him All-America honors in a fourth event.
Barrientez was far from the only OC star at the NCCAA meet. All told, eight OC competitors earned at least one All-America honor by finishing in the top three of an event – Barrientez, Diaz (three) and Nick Stoots (two), along with Lutterloh, Geoffrey Njonjo, David McWilliams, David Koistinen and Austin Wallace (one each).
As a result, OC posted its fifth top-four finish at a national indoor meet, having finished fourth in 1972, second in 1977, third in 1986 and fourth in 2011, all in the NAIA.
Barrientez ranks second to only the great Silas Kisorio in OC history in All-America honors and could add to his current total of 10 during the upcoming outdoor season.