Westmont’s medley relay earns All-American honors

GENEVA, Ohio — Competing at the NAIA Indoor Track and Field Championship, the men’s distance medley relay team from Westmont finished fourth in the finals to earn NAIA All-American honors.

Senior Eric Williams, sophomore Quincy Braxton, senior Jacob Goodin and sophomore Jake Jeanson completed the race in 10:00.94, more than six seconds faster than their time in the prelims. The time is the third best in Westmont men’s track and field history.

“It was a very exciting race to watch and an awesome experience for our team,” said interim head coach Jason Oatis.”

“I am pretty excited,” said Williams. “It reminded Jacob and I of Robby Cherry who had been to nationals 11 times and it wasn’t until his senior year at outdoor nationals that he finally got All-American. Jacob and I are feeling a little bit like that. It’s our senior year and both of us have been to nationals multiple times — him more than I. We are happy everything came together this trip.”

Cherry finished second in the Marathon in 2008, which was Goodin and Williams’ freshman year.

Williams ran the first leg of 1,200 meters in a time of 3:06.

“Eric started off leading because he was expecting people to go for it from the gun,” explained Goodin. “But people were holding back a little. He doesn’t like running from the lead. It is better for him to be in the pack. So I was a little nervous.”

“My legs were dead (at the end of the leg) and I was just glad to give the baton to Quincy,” said Williams. I handed off in second-to last place. Abednego Magut from Azusa Pacific ended up getting in Quincy’s way after Abednego had handed off. Quincy ran right into or rather over Abednego. He knocked him down and took off.”

Magut had just finished his 1,200 meter leg when he veered into Braxton’s path.

“In football you would call it a forearm shiver,” said Oatis of the collision. “I was ready to file a protest, depending on the outcome of the race. However, I saw the official raise a yellow flag immediately. Because we finished fourth and ahead of Azusa Pacific, there was no need to file any protest.”

Though Azusa Pacific finished the race, they were disqualified and did not place.

Quincy completed the 400 meter leg in 49 seconds, handing off to Goodin for his 800 meter leg.

“All day today, I was hoping that I was not going to let the guys down,” acknowledged Goodin. “I feel that this season is the least likely for me to achieve All-American honors because I have been injured and running very minimally, about 10 miles a week. I’ve been managing to run okay times, but not terribly fast.

“Sometimes God has a sense of humor,” offered Goodin. “Eight trips to Nationals and I think I can do it all on my own and I’ve had no luck individually. Now, when I am probably at my weakest as a runner, he gives me this great team of guys and we do it together. It was both exhilarating and humbling at the same time.

Goodin completed his segment in 1:56, leaving the conclusion in the hands, or rather on the feet, of Jeanson.

“I had full confidence in Jake because of the way he has been racing this year and the kind of shape he is in,” said Goodin. “He went above and beyond what we were all expecting.”

“Jake trailed until the last lap,” said Oatis. “At three-quarter’s way he made a move and kept moving up. He was so composed. I could tell he was going to move. He went by other runners and they couldn’t respond.”

With 300 meters left in the race, Jeanson kicked it into another gear and passed three or four runners including the Vanguard runner who led at the beginning of the leg and the Azusa Pacific runner. Jeason completed his 1,600 meter in 4:07.

The winning team was Shorter (Ga.) which finished in 9:58.15, 2.35 seconds ahead of the Warriors. Oklahoma Christian took second in a time of 9:58.44 and Aquinas (Mich.) claimed third place with a time of 10:00.50. Fellow Golden State Athletic Conference school Vanguard completed the race in a time of 10:02.67 for fifth place while Simon Frasier (B.C.) placed sixth in a time of 10:02.86. Only 4.71 seconds separated all finishers of the 4,000 meter race.