In their second indoor event, the Oklahoma Christian University Eagles men’s track and field team headed to Lubbock, Texas for the Texas Tech Masked Rider Open. The meet concluded with multiple first-place finishes, as well as extended winning streaks for multiple Eagles athletes.
After an impressive showing in Missouri the previous week, junior Tracy Marshall competed in the long jump in Lubbock and took home first place.
Marshall pulled ahead of the competition with a winning distance of 22 feet, 10 and-a-half inches. The Oklahoma Christian athlete had come into the Open having already scored a personal best, as well as a seventh-best NCCAA all-time finish last week at Missouri Southern State University after making a few modifications to his style.
“I had been working on a new technique going into the Missouri Invitational,” Marshall said. “So it was definitely nice to see the results that I was able to get during the past few meets.”
Junior David McWilliams finished atop the field with a first-place effort in the 5,000 meters with a final time of 15:25.15; slower than his previous time on the track.
“It was definitely hard to be disappointed after winning an event,” McWilliams said. “I had actually run a flat fifteen last year on the same track, but I’m happy for the win and think that it’s a good start for the season.”
Freshman Bryant Keirns also did well in the 5,000 for the Eagles with his time of 15:39.73, landing him a second-place finish. The next runner after McWilliams and Keirns came in three and-a-half seconds behind the Eagles’ top two finishers.
Three of the Eagles also ran in the 1,000 meters on Friday. Senior Nick Stoots led the three, finishing 12th with a time of 2:36.53. Senior Geoffrey Njonjo followed in 17th with a time of 2:39.15, and sophomore David Koistinen came in 22nd with a time of 2:42.56.
The outstanding finishes continued on Saturday for the Eagles as junior Brayden Barrientez won his second mile event of the season with a time of 4:13.49. Barrientez bested the second-place finisher by more than five seconds during this event.
Barrientez’s finish also registered as the fourth-fastest mile time recorded by any NCCAA member school.
His win signified the third event-victory during the Texas Tech meet for the Eagles. Head coach Randy Heath elaborated on the importance of these wins and on the team’s success thus far in the indoor season.
“Unlike many other sports, track and field really all comes back to individual performance,” Heath said. “Athletes can vary in placement through different meets, but at least for these past few we’ve had a good amount of our [athletes] come out strong.”
Other Oklahoma Christian athletes also posted top finishes during the portion of the meet held on Saturday. Sophomore Roberto Diaz finished fourth in the mile with a time of 4:20.70, and also finished fifth overall in the 3,000 meters with a time of 8:33.82.
Njonjo finished just after his teammate in the 3,000 meters in sixth place, with a final time of 8:45.03.
Overall, the Eagles came out of the Texas Tech Masked Rider Open with three first-place finishes, as well as multiple other top ten finishes—a springboard performance to gain momentum early this season.
“Texas Tech was a pretty huge meet,” Marshall said. “And at the end we were still able to hear some of our own announced over the speakers as top finishers, and that’s a pretty good motivator.”
As the Eagles continue on, few significant problems seem to stick out aside from a common occurrence that comes with the season.
During the Missouri Southern Invitational in the first week of the season, many Eagles who ran long-distance were unable to attend because of minor injury or sickness. Coach Heath later commented on some of the team’s ailments.
“Just like everyone else on campus, we’ve been having a bit of trouble with the flu lately,” Heath said. “That combined with injury has definitely caused some missed practices and events for our athletes.”
The Eagles‘ next meet will take place tomorrow at the Central Oklahoma Invitational. McWilliams summed up his thoughts by shedding light on the long-term goal of the Eagles track and field team.
“We’re having a lot of small victories during this season,” McWilliams said. “And all together, those will pay huge dividends when we are able to bring so many athletes to nationals at the end of the season.”