ACU dominates in running events to cruise to men's title
By BILL HART
Special to the Abilene Reporter-News
April 28, 2000
RALEIGH, N.C. - Speed kills and that is what the Abilene Christian University men runners did to the rest of the field at the NCAA Division II outdoor championships Saturday night.
The Wildcats didn't have a point in the first two days of the meet, but they made up for that by scoring in every running event held the final day for their second straight crown and fourth in five years. They finished with 115 points, well ahead of the 71 scored by second-place St. Augustine's.
The meet wasn't actually that close - St. Augustine's scored 27 points in the next-to-last event, the triple jump, and 10 by winning the 1,600 relay.
ACU started with a bang, running the fifth best 440-meter relay time in school history as Oscar Meneses, Nic Alexander, J. R. Holden and Julieon Raeburn blistered the field with a 39.55 time, winning by almost a second.
Alexander came back to win the 100 and 200, John Kemboi took the 1,500 and 800, and Raeburn the 400.
"All of our handoffs were about perfect; all we had to do was get the stick around,'' Alexander said of the opening win.
"That opened the door for us.''
"That win set the pace for the rest of the meet,'' Raeburn said. "Oscar gave Nic a lead, he extended it and so did J.R. I had a good lead when I got the baton.''
Meneses' brother, Jose, a freshman, had run on the team during the preliminaries because of Oscar's injured leg for most of the year, but the senior was not going to miss this one.
"My leg didn't bother me; I didn't qualify in the 100 Friday because my blocks slipped,'' Meneses said. "The win (the relay) just opened the doors for us.''
Kemboi's 1,500-meter time, 3:42.36, was the third best in ACU history, and he won over teammate Afred Rugema, who ran a strong 3:44.33. Gilbert Tuhabonye was third early in the race, but fell back to ninth.
"We went out fast because we did not want to get boxed in,'' Kemboi said. "We try to keep up with each other after each 400. We try to help each other out during the race.
"This weather (warm and humid) was good, almost like at home, and this is a good track to run on.''
He won the 800 in his best time of the year, 1:48.78 and he won by a half of a second.
"What can I say? We scored over 100 points in tonight's running events and two field events,'' coach John Murray said.
"Our start was huge. We had no points until tonight and then we get 10 in the relay and 18 in the 1,500. We got great performances from great athletes. I was surprised that we won by as many points as we did. Second, third and fourth places were bunched up for most of the meet and that helped our margin.''
Alexander won the 100 in 10.36, although Tom Green of South Dakota came on strong to get second in 10.41. The ACU red-shirt freshman then nosed out Raeburn in the 200 meters, 20.81 to 20.98.
"It was not one of my best starts, but it was OK,''Alexander said of the 100 win. "The middle part of my race was my strongest; that's when I started to pull away. I had seen him (Green) even with 30 meters to go, so I decided to put more effort into the race.''
Raeburn, bothered with back problems, pulled away to win the 400 in a season's best 46.08, holding off Paston Coke of New York Tech (46.40). He also ran a 46.7 on the 1,600-meter relay as ACU finished third in a season's best time of 3:08.40. Jason Prann led off with a 46.7, Marcus Mars had 48.2 and Nick Gaffney closed with a 46.7.
The best event of the night was in the high jump where Collat Johnson of Tarleton State soared 7-4\, an all-time Lone Star Conference best, to beat ACU's Terrence Woods, who went 7-3. Yet it was an inch shy of the Tarleton school record.
"I literally choked at this meet last year, finishing seventh, so I wanted to do better this time,'' said Johnson, who is a starter on the basketball team. "I put a lot of work into it this year. I made a commitment to track and I got a lot of help from my coaches.
"I enjoy jumping against Terrence, we're good friends. He has helped me and although I'm not a coach, I think I have helped him."
This was the fourth time that Woods and Johnson - who are good friends - had jumped against each other and both won twice. Woods was the LSC champion.
Woods cleared 7-1 on his third try to keep the competition going. Both made 7-3 on their second attempt and Johnson made 7-4\ on his third try.
"I got too deep on my approaches on my first two tries at 7-1, and I slowed too much,'' Woods said. "Collat motivates me and I hope I motivate him.''
Tarleton got four other points, two on the seventh-place 1,600 relay team and a seventh from Freddie Cates in the javelin.
1. Abilene Christian University - 115;
1. Ryan Weidman, A&M-Kinsville, 225-7;
1. Collat Johnson, Tarleton, 7-4 1/4;
1. ACU 39.55;
1. John Kemboi, ACU, 3:42.36;
1. Jeramie Thomas, Adams State, 13.98;
1. Julieon Raeburn, ACU, 46.08;
1. Nic Alexander, ACU, 10.36;
1. Tim Rusan, St. Augustine's 53-3;
1. Robert Garza, A&M-Kingsville, 58-4 1/2;
1. John Kemboi, ACU, 1:48.78;
1. David Lloyd, Gardner-Webb, 51.39;
1. Nic Alexander, ACU, 20.81;
1. Michael Aish, Western State Colo., 13:59.59;
1. St. Augustine's 3:07.40;
Copyright ©2000, Abilene Reporter-News / Texnews / E.W. Scripps Publications
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