TRK: Westmont men claim first GSAC title; women take 2nd

Westmont Men’s Track and Field won its first GSAC Championship in program history, outscoring second place Concordia by 62 points (241.5- 179.5). Westmont Women’s Track and Field was edged out of the championship by Biola 181-180, despite placing first in 10 of 22 events.

The men’s team won just one running event, but claimed five first place finishes in field events and another in the decathlon.

“We knew that we could cover events and we had some remarkable sweeps in the long jump and triple jumps. We scored 18 points in the high jump and took first, second and sixth in the hammer. It was very remarkable, very exciting.”

Ben Kingsley recorded a team-high 34 points for the Warriors in individual events while Tyler Moore tallied 32 individual points and eight more as part of the 4 x 100 meter relay. Ben McCollum added another 28 points and Shane Rowan contributed 18 points plus eight as part of the 4 x 100 relay team.

“Ben Kingsley had three conference championships – shot put, discus and the hammer,” noted Smelley “He fought a lot of obstacles to be able to attend Westmont and it is very gratifying for him to have those wins.

“Ben McCollum came up big in the jumps and the hurdles,” continued Smelley. “Tyler Moore scored in four running events. Shane Rowan’s was exuberant over scoring well in the 200 and sealing the deal for his team.”

Moore took first in the long jump with a mark of 6.64 meters (21-9.5) while Niko Brooks claimed second with a jump of 6.52 meters (21-4.75). McCollum completed the All-GSAC sweep with a jump of 6.50 meters (21-4) to take third place. Rowan took fifth in the event, jumping 6.24 meters (20-5.75).

In the triple jump, Rowan posted the first-place mark of 14.24 meters (46-8.75). McCollum took second at 12.97 meters (42-6.75), edging out Moore in third who posted 12.92 meters (42-4.75).

Kingsley’s win in the shot with a put of 14.24 meters (46-8.75) was complimented with a third place finish by Albert Gastaldo at 10.92 meters (35-10).

The throwing duo claimed first and third in the discus as well, with Kingsley throwing for 38.41 meters (126-00) and 31.07 meters (101-11) respectively.

Kingsley started the day on Saturday by claiming the GSAC Championship in the hammer with a throw of 37.03 meters (121-6). Westmont’s James Beeghly took second in the event with a throw of 30.44 meters (99-10).

Kyle Kemper was the only entrant in the decathlon, but his score of 5,572 points earned the Warriors 10 points.

The Warriors also took first place in the 4 x 800 meter relays. Isaac Thompkins, David Donner, Matt Shiney and Nathan Evans posted an NAIA Outdoor Track and Field Championship provisional qualifying time of 7:45.31. They missed the automatic qualifying mark by just 0.31 but beat second place Biola by more than 14 seconds.

In the women’s meet, Kristan Holding led the team with 24 points after Smelley decided to enter her in four individual events rather than the heptathlon which would have limited her to a maximum of 10 points.

Amanda Chevalier and Elysia Hodges each picked up 20 individual points and contributed to 20 more points by winning relays. Laurel Stormans added another 14 individual points and helped the Warriors win another 10 points in relays.

Westmont trailed Biola for much of the meet, but with just two events to go, the Warriors pulled even with the Eagles at 168 points each.

“That was very exciting and fun to have the opportunity to fight back from a 29 points deficit and tie the score,” said Smelley who reported that it was the closest championship in which he had ever been a part.

The Eagles picked up five points in the women’s 5,000 meters with fourth and sixth place finishes. Westmont’s Jessica Meyers finished fifth in a time of 18:31.39 to collect two points, resulting in a three point Eagle lead.

In the final event, Westmont’s Karlie Storkson, Chevalier, Theresa Nealon and Hodges produced a new stadium, GSAC and Westmont record performance to win the 4 x 400 meter race in a time of 3.49.99. They also exceeded the NAIA automatic qualifying time by just over five seconds.

However, the resulting 10 points was not enough to overcome Biola who finished second and earned eight points. Still, Smelley was pleased with his team’s effort.

“They performed with a lot of heart and a lot of determination,” noted the coach. “Winning ten events is an outstanding performance.”

Chevalier won both the 100 and 200 meters. Her time of 12.22 in the 100 earned her a provisional qualification to nationals as did her mark of 25.09 in the 200 meters.

Hodges claimed the championship in the 400 meters with a new stadium and Westmont record of 54.71 seconds. Storkson’s took second in the event with a time of 57.99.

Hodges also won a fast-paced 400 meter hurdles in which the first three competitors each posted automatic qualification times. Hodges cleared the final hurdle in third place but then engaged thrusters to win the event with a time of 63.31 seconds. Laurel Stormans claimed third place for the Warriors with a time of 63.70.

“Mandy and Elysia did great with four championships each,” said Smelley. “Laurel Stormans is the heart and soul of what this team looks like – quietly confident. If there is a motto, a theme, a heart of the team, it is her.”

Nealon’s time of 2:12.54 was good enough for a GSAC championship and 10 team points. It also beat the nationals’ automatic qualification standard by over three seconds.

“Theresa had a very good meet and handled herself well,” said Smelley. “After a very difficult day of getting sick on Friday, she came back with two very nice races to win in the 800 and 4 x 400.”

In addition to winning the 4 x 400, the Warriors also claimed first in the 4 x 100 meter relay. Stormans, Hodges, Kaylin Koopmans and Chevalier claimed the event in a school record time of 47.88, beating the automatic qualification time by 0.11 second.

In field events, Hannah Jacobson won the high jump in a jump-off with a mark of 1.50 meters (4-11). The top seven finishers all successfully cleared 1.50, but only Jacobson and Biola’s Jessica Airey qualified for the jump-off on the basis of previous misses. Holding and Lauren Patmore tied Lauren Houck of Biola for third place, claiming a combined eight points for the Warriors.

Holding and Jacobson also scored in the long jump with Holding winning the event with a mark of 5.44 meters (17-10.25) and Jacobson taking fifth with a jump of 4.82 meters (15-9.75).

Tina Ballue added to the Warriors’ point total by winning the triple jump with a mark of 10.26 meters (33-8).

The Warriors have two more national qualification opportunities when they compete at Occidental on May 4 and Cal State Los Angeles on May 11. The NAIA Outdoor Track and Field National Championships will be held on May 23-25 in Marion, Indiana.