OKLAHOMA CITY (March 13, 2013) – After one of the more successful indoor track and field seasons in Oklahoma Christian history, the Eagles have high hopes for the outdoor season, which will open Thursday.
The Eagles will travel to Winfield, Kan., for the Southwestern College Invitational, their first meet since a fourth-place finish at the National Christian College Athletic Association Indoor Championships last month.
“We’ve got to requalify in everything, but we’ve still got 24 men who are all eligible and healthy at this point and we’re ready to go,” OC head coach Randy Heath said. “We hope to qualify a good number of them for the NCCAA (outdoor) nationals.”
OC’s middle-distance and distance runners played a vital role in the team’s indoor success and figure to do the same as the outdoor season progresses. The Eagles will be without senior Brayden Barrientez, who is redshirting after a stellar indoor season, but have three national-meet scorers back in Roberto Diaz, Geoffrey Njonjo and David McWilliams.
Diaz, an All-American in three events during the indoor season, will run a few 800-meter races but will primarily focus on the 1,500 meters and 5,000 meters. McWilliams and Njonjo, both seniors, will run the 5,000 and 10,000 meters. They both earned All-America honors in the 5,000 indoors.
Freshman Bryant Keirns, who has shown considerable promise, could run in the 5,000 meters, with the 3,000-meter steeplechase also an option, OC assistant coach Wade Miller said.
“Bryant will find a place somewhere,” Heath said. “As a freshman, he’s getting good experience. He’s running behind Geoffrey and David right now but he will improve.”
Even as the Eagles will be without one of their most experienced competitors in Barrientez, they’ll pick up hurdler-sprinter Renaldo Garrett, who has one season of outdoor eligibility remaining. Garrett should compete well in the 110-meter hurdles and could run the leadoff leg of OC’s 4x100-meter relay team, Heath said.
Nick Stoots and Ryan Lutterloh, both versatile runners, likely will focus on the 400 meters and 800 meters, and a “greatly improved” Winston Ogletree will compete in the 400-meter hurdles, Heath said.
OC also has good potential in the field events. Senior Tracy Marshall is a proven performer in both the long jump and triple jump, scoring in both events at the NCCAA meet, and could add the high jump to his repertoire. Sophomore Larry Brown scored points in the weight throw indoors and should be strong in the hammer throw outdoors.
Nate Donley (discus and javelin) and Adam Zolman (pole vault) give the Eagles potential in those events, although Zolman will miss the opening meet due to injury. Myles Mukes, a member of OC’s basketball team, will compete in jumping events for the track team once the basketball team has ended.
“Everybody has got their speciality,” Heath said. “We’ve got a lot of events covered.”
Freshman Austin Wallace is coming off a surprise second-place showing in the heptathlon at the NCCAA indoor meet and will look to build on that effort as he competes in the decathlon this spring while working with OC assistant coach Jeff Bennett, a former Olympic decathlon competitor.
The team will point toward the McMurry/Heartland Invitational meet April 19-20, then the NCCAA Championships May 2-4 in Joliet, Ill., Heath said.