Oklahoma Christian University’s track and field team is set to compete at the University of Oklahoma Sooner Invite on April 16 and 17.
Sophomore Jonathan Olsson, seeded second for javelin at the invite, recently threw his best this season. With a throw of 178 feet 5 inches, Olsson also broke the javelin record for Oklahoma Christian at Wichita State last weekend.
“(The record throw) felt good. It was on my first throw of Saturday’s competition,” Olsson said. “I kind of had to keep composed so I could keep throwing.”
Olsson hopes to improve for the Sooner Invite.
“I’d really like to be able to throw 56 meters (almost 184 feet). That should place top four,” Olsson said.
There are only four athletes set to compete in javelin.
Olsson will also compete in shot put and hammer, seeded first of 13 and third of seven respectively.
“Hammer, last week I just hit a personal best by about two meters,” Olsson said. “Then in shot put I set a PR (personal record) about three weeks ago at Oklahoma Baptist University. So, that was big and I’m just waiting for everything to kind of click.”
Olsson also spoke of teammates who he thought would compete well this weekend.
“Chaney Martin, he’s done really well in the decathlon as a freshman,” Olsson said. “And I think probably Verrell McBride if he’s competing this weekend.”
Martin will compete in the decathlon while McBride will run the 100 meter and 200 meter races.
They, along with the rest of Oklahoma Christian’s athletes, may have tough competition as, according to Head Coach Wade Miller, Oklahoma Christian will be one of just four Division II schools at this mostly Division I meet.
“That’s actually going to be helpful for me,” Martin said. “I’ve always been better when I’m facing better competitors.”
The decathlon requires athletes to compete across 10 events. The first day consists of the 100 meter dash, long jump, shot put, high jump and the 400 meter run, while the second day is made up of the 110 meter high hurdles, discus, pole vault, javelin and finally, a 1500 meter run.
“Pole vault is definitely my favorite,” Martin said. “I’m a thrill seeker — getting upside down is kind of scary.”
Martin’s least favorite event is discus.
“(Throwing coach) Jeff Bennett is helping me out a lot,” Martin said. “He’s taught me a lot about the multi events, but in particular when I have an event like discus that frustrates me, it’s a good thing that I can just put it out of my mind and just move on.”
Jeff Bennet holds the 8092-point decathlon record for Oklahoma Christian and competed for the U.S. in the 1972 Olympics at Munich where he took fourth in the decathlon.
“I will probably never get that record,” Martin said. “But I’m always striving to get there.”
Martin first competed in the decathlon at the Oklahoma Baptist University Invite on March 26 and 27, putting up a score of 6008 points. As his only performance, 6008 is also his personal best so far.
“This upcoming weekend I hope it’s changed by a few hundred points,” Martin said. “First, I want to get a provisional, obviously, but that’s not where my head is at. I’m looking past that. I want to be competitive at the nationals sometime soon. If I were to do that, I’d have to get close to 7000.”
A provisional mark is an event’s minimum requirement to qualify for the entire division’s championships at the end of the season. For the decathlon, that mark is 6325.
Martin also commented on his hopes for his teammates.
“Owen Pearce, in the 1500 meter: If he’s running this weekend I think he’s going to be phenomenal. Alex Samples I think will do great, too,” Martin said.
Samples will compete in high jump, long jump and triple jump.
Sophomore Ethan Anthony will run the 1500 meter run; Anthony is seeded fifth out of a field of 11.
“I’m looking forward to the meet. Hopefully, I run quicker than I did on the weekend,” Anthony said.
Anthony ran a season best of 4:06 in the 1500 meter at Wichita State last week, while his all-time best is a 3:59.
“I’ve been getting better a bit each week,” Anthony said. “I can only speak for the distance and mid-distance guys I train with, but I think everyone’s in PR shape.”
Hopefully, the same is true for the rest of Oklahoma Christian’s athletes.