TRK: Collier, Hodges, relay team earn All-American honors

GULF SHORES, Ala.— On the final day of the NAIA Outdoor Track and Field National Championships, Westmont picked up All-American titles in three more events.

A day after finishing fourth in the heptathlon, Becky Collier finished second in the high jump to claim the title not only of All-American, but also of national runner-up. Nine of the high jumpers cleared 1.68 meters (5-6) but only Collier and eventual winner Akela Jones were able to leave the bar undisturbed at the next height of 1.71 meters (5-7.25).

“I was a little bit sore,” said Collier regarding her physical condition after two days of competing in the heptathlon, “but I was also excited. The high jump is my favorite event.

“I tried to maintain the same mindset I had in the heptathlon. I was surprised that 1.71 got second. I thought it would be a lot higher. My left leg is a little sore, so I think I didn’t have some spring. But, I also think my approach was a little off for my last jumps. However, I was happy with what I did.”

The next to earn All-American honors was Elysia Hodges who placed third in the 400 meter dash with a time of 54.89. Hodges, who has been struggling with a left shin stress reaction, was uncertain what she would be able to do in the race. As it turned out, she took exactly one second off of her time from the Golden State Athletic Conference (GSAC) Championships one month ago.

“I’m a little bit bummed knowing that the winner was just a little bit off my PR. If it had come together better this year, I might have been able to come out with a win. But, I am happy with how I did.

“I didn’t really have a strategy,” acknowledged Hodges. “I was just going to go. The first 200 it felt good. I think I came in around 26 (seconds). Then at the 200, I started focusing on picking off people. I think I picked off three. I was in third on the straight and was pushing the whole way, but (the leaders) weren’t backing off. I might have closed the gap a little between second and third.”

Also collecting All-American honors were the men’s 4 x 400 meter relay team of Christian Hatchett, Bryan Avendano, John Nealon and Tyler Moore. The Warriors finished sixth in the event with a time of 3:14.45. Moore ran the anchor and moved the Warriors up from seventh to sixth place in the final lap.

Also competing today where Heidi Nicholls and Daniel Erickson in the marathon. Nicholls finished in ninth place in a time of 3:19:26. Erickson was one of 18 male athletes that did not complete the 26 mile, 385 yard race. After reaching the 23 mile mark, Erickson suffered intestinal distress and was removed from the race.

Also competing today was Shane Rowan in the triple jump. His best mark of 14.03 meters (46-0.5) earned him a 15th place finish.

As a team, the Westmont women tied for 14th place with 19 points, the best of any GSAC school. The men scored just three points and tied for 54th place with The Master’s and three others. No other GSAC school scored higher.