In his last season as an Oklahoma Christian University Eagle, senior Landon Huslig said he managed to achieve one of his dreams with just a lean.
“My strategy was just to go for broke,” Huslig said. “I knew it would be a tough race and I wanted to show why I belonged with the leaders in the race.”
On May 26, Huslig became Oklahoma Christian’s first Division II National Champion by winning the 400-meter hurdle race in a record time of 49.67 seconds.
Huslig edged American International College runner Chad Miller by .05 seconds to claim the national champion title.
“I knew it was going to be close, so I tried to concentrate on leaning hard as I crossed the finish line,” Huslig said.“I was hoping I won, but it was close enough the only way I would know for sure is when it showed up on the official clock.”
Huslig said he leaned so hard he could not control his momentum and fractured his wrist at the conclusion of the race.
“I leaned hard enough across the line that I lost my balance and was too tired to recover,” Huslig said.” So, I tried to stop my fall with my arm, which did not work out so great.”
Khallifah Rosser from California State University–Los Angeles recorded the best time in the preliminary race, 49.23 seconds, and was the favorite to win the national title. Rosser stood as the only athlete to post a time under 50 seconds going into the title race.
Despite being the favorite, Rosser caught his leg on the hurdle in the first curve of the title race and fell, which increased Huslig’s chance to win the race. Although, Huslig said he had no idea Rosser fell and continued to push himself to the finish line.
“At that point in the race, he was behind me and I was so focused on myself that I did not know what had happened to him until after the race was over,” Huslig said.
With a lean and a .05 second cushion over Miller, Huslig claimed the National Champion title and his fifth career All-America honor. Not only was this the first Division II Champion for Oklahoma Christian, Huslig also became the first Oklahoma Christian Great American Conference Athlete to win a national title.
On May 6, 2017, Huslig broke Coach Jeff Bennett’s 49-year-old school record of 51.44 seconds and lowered the record even more with his championship run of 49.67 seconds.
At the conclusion of the race, Huslig said Bennett was excited to witness the successful run and another 400 hurdle championship.
“It has been a huge blessing to have him as a mentor these last four years,” Huslig said.
Huslig’s national champion honor earned him a spot in the preliminary 400 hurdle race at the USATF Outdoor Championship on June 21. Huslig posted a time of 51.17 seconds, missing the qualifying time for the semi-final race by .09 of a second.Although the USATF race marked Huslig’s final run as an Eagle, Huslig earned one more award for Oklahoma Christian to add to his legacy.
In a Twitter poll, voters chose Huslig’s championship 400 hurdle race as the Most Outstanding Performance at a NCAA Division II Championship by a Great American Conference athlete or team. He received 36 percent of the 705 votes to earn this leGACy award.
Because last spring was his final season of eligibility as a collegiate athlete, Huslig said his goals for this school year are simple.
“I am out of eligibility,” Huslig said. “Personal goals for the year are to graduate—finally—and give as much knowledge as I can to those still on the team.”
Track and Field Coach Wade Miller said Huslig has already impacted the team in a positive manner through his tenacity and determination, and he will continue to provide insight and support, despite no longer competing.
“In Huslig’s effort to achieve his best, he has been a great example of commitment to our sport as well as giving back to our program through his leadership and grit,” Miller said. “Leading up to competition everyone knew that Landon would give his best effort and that type of attitude enabled trust from teammates and coaches. That trust translated to confidence and focus on relays and helped our team accomplish some special things over his career.”