(Grand Rapids, Mich.) Jacob Erickson and Joel Leong's shared interest in music and track brought them together as roommates last year. They concluded their Wolverine-Hoosier Athletic Conference careers by each setting a meet record in their best events.
Leong opened the meet by winning the hammer throw on his first attempt. His second throw travelled 199' 9.75" breaking the record of 187' 7" set in 2004 by Mike Caro of Siena Heights. Leong's next three throws were no better, but he made a huge effort on his final attempt, yelling, "get out!" as the ball flew and landed beyond the 60 meter arc. The throw measured 201' 10" which was just one inch short of his personal best.
Events on the track began well for CU as Zach Ripley, Alex Green and Cody Risch pulled away from the field in the 3000 meter steeplechase. In the final 200 meters, Ripley and Green discussed who should win. Ripley, who has been NAIA National runner up twice in the event graciously gave Green the conference title. Alex won in 9:38.20 with Ripley four seconds back. Risch was third in 9:53.00. Peter Kaijala made a determined effort to move from fifth to fourth in the last lasp. He and Kevin Mahar of Aquinas raced shoulder to shoulder over the final 80 meters with Mahar getting the better lean at the line 10:01.70 to 10:01.80.
In the 4 x 100 meters, Adam Duerksen, Zach Yeo, Erickson built a three meter lead for anchor James Russ. Rumeal McKinney of Aquinas pulled ahead, as expected giving the Saints the win in 41.83. Cornstone's time of 42.19 bettered the NAIA provisional standard in second.
Ripley fought his way to third in the 1500 in a personal best 3:56.38 just behind Jesiah Rodriguez of Siena in 3:55.45.
Erickson and Yeo dominated the 400 meters with Jacob clocking 48.43 for the win and meet record, erasing the 48.65 run by Jameel Jones of Siena Heights in 2004. Yeo set a personal best 48.95 in second.
CU sprinters finished 2-4-6 in the 200 meters. Erickson's time of 21.83 was a huge personal best and just under the meet record of 21.84 set by Jason Carver of Aquinas in 2001. Rumeal McKinney, however made sure the new record stayed with Aquinas, winning in 21.72. Yeo's 22.26 was also personal best and Burd added one point for his 22.64.
Ripley and Green were back at it in the 5000 meters controlling the pace at the front of the pack. Freshman, Jared Courtright, held on to the back of the pack as it strung out. Shortly before the finish it was decided that this race would be Zach's to win and he eased ahead of Green 15:17.32 to 15:18.33. Courtright was a determined sixth in 15:51.33.
Chad Butler cleared a PR 14' in the pole vault finishing fifth, just 1.25" off the freshm
As is always the case, the 4 x 400 meter relay provided plenty of fireworks to close out a great competition that saw nine meet records fall. Cornestone held off Indiana Tech for the WHAC Indoor title in February and the Warriors wasted no time trying to settle that score. Yeo's 50.5 lead off leg had CU five meters behind after the exchange and cut in. Tech's second man extended the gap to 15 meters as Kurtis Koffkey's 50.7 kept Cornerstone solidly in second place. Jeff Burd attacked for the entire third leg, closing the margin to less than ten meters with an amazing 47.9 split. Erickson whittled away the rest of the gap in 200 meters then positioned himself through the final turn just behind Tech's anchor. As the pair came off the bend Erickson came up shoulder to shoulder. The two stayed that way for the last 70 meters, a wall of teammates lining the homestretch and providing thunderous noise. Erickson's heroic 47.3 split left Cornerstone just .26 short at the line with Tech prevailing 3:16.40 to 3:16.56.
Aquinas won the team title with 173 points followed by Seina Heights at 134. Cornerstone took third, just one point behind Seina wile Indiana Tech totaled 113, Daveport 63 and Concordia 24.