The Montreat Cavalier Track and Field Team competed well in the AAC championships on Thursday, and Cavalier athletes hit season best performances in a number of events. Seniors Jared Nielsen and Lindsay Mizok closed out their AAC careers with strong performances, each running personal best times in their events. Nielsen clocked a 16:46 in the 5000-meter run placing 6th overall, but missing the podium by 20 seconds. Mizok clocked a 5:06.21 in the 1500-meter run, tying her season and career best mark in the event and scoring a point for the Cavaliers in the process with her 4th place finish.
"Jared and Lindsay are the rocks of this team. They are leaders, determined hard workers, and it's been a pleasure to coach them over the last year. I was proud of both of them for running PRs in their last conference meet, and I am going to miss them both next year," said Herbert. "Jared ran a tough race, and although he was unable to score for us, he did run a personal best time which is awesome. Our next goal is to get him qualified for Nationals in the marathon when he runs in Cincinnati on May 6th. Lindsay ran a good 1500-meter run in some wicked heat and scored for us, and I'll be looking forward to taking her to Nationals one more time this May."
On the men's side, Junior Billy Parker once again led the way for the Cavaliers. Parker finished 2nd in the 110 high hurdles in a personal best time of 15.54, 3rd in the long jump(6.07 meters), and successfully defended his high jump title, winning the event clearing a height of 1.82 meters. On top of that, Parker joined up with teammates De'Andre Young, Ayobami Oyemade, and Cedric Cash to finish second in the 4x100 meter relay. "We have leaned on Billy all year and today was no different. We came in thinking that he could potentially win each of his events. Unfortunately things didn't work out that way today, but he worked through it. It's easy to compete well when everything is going right, but days like today show the character of an athlete. He struggled, but he found a way to post good marks. He came through with his last jump in the long jump to break 6 meters, he cleared 1.82 meters in the high jump when he was down to one attempt, and he just continued to fight for every point. I'm proud of him for toughing it out and finding a way to win the high jump and score in each event, and giving me his best effort because ultimately, that's all you can ask of an athlete," remarked Coach Herbert.
Freshmen phenoms Andy Roof and De'Andre Young continued to impress as well as Roof clocked another personal best in the 1500 meters (4:03.60, 4th place) while doubling back to run 2:01 in the 800-meters and a 53.2 second split in the 4x400 relay.
"Andy ran so well today. He has flourished from day one in this program and his 4th place finish today is impressive, but not indicative of his effort. He took the lead with a little over 200 meters to go and he went for the win. He faded at the very end, but he's a tough runner and he's only a freshman. The rest of the AAC better take notice because Andy Roof is a force, and he's going to score a lot of points for us over the next three years," said Coach Herbert with a smile. "He struggled to double back in the 800 but his 400 split was solid and we're going to find him another chance or two to try to qualify for Nationals before the end of the season."
Young, after anchoring the Cavs to a runner-up finish in the 4x100 meters, had a tough start to the day when he was disqualified after a false-start in the open 100 meters, but he came back to run a personal best time of 48.98 in the open 400 meter event, and then anchored the Cavs 4x400 meter team to a third-place finish.
"I was heated when De was disqualified from the 100-meter open. I was so mad I threw my stopwatch and my hat," remarked Coach Herbert. "He was in trouble in his blocks and asked for help from the official, but the official disqualified him anyway, which was unnecessary in my opinion, and I let the official know about it. Honestly, I had to just walk away because I was so upset. We lost a lot of points in that event today."
Young wasn't the only one who failed to complete the 100 meter event as Freshman Cedric Cash pulled a muscle in the 4x100 meters and failed to complete the open 100 race. "Ced had a tough day, and you hate to see a guy's season end like that. He's been competing so well in the sprints and the jumps, but that's the way it goes sometimes," said Herbert.
The surprise of the day was Freshman Jeff Ward who threw a huge personal best in the discus (36.66 meters) and finished on the podium with a 3rd place finish. Fellow Freshman Nick Gerstung placed 6th in the event with a personal best throw as well, tossing the discus 32.02 meters. "Jeff snuck up on them today and he was sitting in second for most of the competition. He scored points for us today, and I expect that he's only going to get better from here," says Herbert. "Nick threw well today too. As a coach, it always makes you proud when your guys PR at the conference championships, so I couldn't be happier with these two."
On the women's side, Mizok was joined in the 1500 meters by teammates Lauren Kelly (8th place, 5:38) and Brooke Alexander (9th place, 5:58). Freshman Mathilde Bernard finished 4th in the open 100 meter dash in a personal best time of 14.36 seconds and scored a point for the Cavaliers, while fellow Freshman Hali Bosma threw a personal best 9.44 meters in the shot put and finished 3rd overall for the Cavaliers. Sophomore Hope Lowe threw a personal best by over a meter in the discus, finishing 4th overall with a mark of 28.42 meters.
"Lauren has run through injuries all year. Two weeks ago she was walking around in a boot and we were waiting to hear back about whether or not her foot was broken, so for her to run as well as she did today really speaks to how special she is both as an athlete and as a person. Brooke didn't run her best race, but she wasn't far off her personal best either and I anticipate that she will continue to improve in the years to come," remarked Herbert. "Frenchy (Bernard) was awesome today! She ran a PR and scored a point for us. Considering she's been running track for like 4 weeks, that's pretty legit! And Hali and Hope were huge for us today. Hali's mark in the shot was only a half-meter off of the winning throw and Hope was only a little over 4 feet from winning her event as well. These two have made great strides and could end up being the favorites in their events next year."
Other Cavalier Performances Included:
Xandi Gellman Shot Put (6th place, 7.67 meters)
Ayobami Oyemade 100 meters (4th place, 12.26)
Ayobami Oyemade 400 meters (6th place, 53.04)
Jordan Lukacena 400 meters (8th place, 54.13)
Cam Boles 400 meters (9th place, 55.99)
Noah Hall 400 meter hurdles (2nd place, 59.28)
Zach Antill 800 meters (8th place, 2:15)
While this meet wrapped up the season for most of the Cavalier athletes, a select few will run at Clemson on May 5th in a last chance attempt to qualify for the NAIA National Championships.