GENEVA, OH (3/7) Cornerstone's Cody Risch opened the second day of the 2014 NAIA Indoor Track & Field Championships winning the 3,000 meter race walk in meet record time. CU's had two other men competing and both advanced to Saturday's finals, but in very different ways.
Sophomore, Deon Fox endured a difficult season. After qualifying for both NAIA and USATF Junior Nationals last year in the decathlon, a compound fracture in his wrist early this season limited his ability to train for most of his events. He could still work on the hurdles and that was a bright spot as the indoor season came to a close. After breaking the school record and coming close to the NAIA qualifying standard, Fox ran 1/100 of a second under the provisional qualifying time in the 60 meter hurdles at the Wolverine-Hoosier Athletic Conference meet.
His time of 8.39 made him the 22nd seed in the field of 22 for Friday's semi-finals. Running in the first of three heats, Fox drew lane six in the middle of the Spire Center's ten lane straightaway. After a good start, Deon knew he was running well. "I got to the first hurdle in the lead," he said, "and I thought, 'I'm not going to give this spot up.'" Kenneth Combs, the third seed from Oklahoma Baptist passed Fox, but no one else did. Combs, the heat winner in 7.98 automatically advanced to the finals. Deon's 8.22, a personal best and school record by .17 would need to be one of the five fastest times behind the winners of the next two heats. Eleven other men in the race were seeded at 8.21 or better, giving Fox little hope of advancing.
As often happens in the sprint hurdles, the second heat was a violent and noisy eight seconds with hurdles smashing and crashing all over the track. Nikola Shingles of Central Methodist won with the fastest time of the day, 7.97, but only Logan Moore of Siena Heights bettered Fox with an 8.00 clocking. The third heat was the deepest as the top three ran between 8.04 and 8.16, but Trevor Stanley of Indiana Tech took fourth in 8.23 making Deon the seventh seed for the finals.
Knowing he'd run well, but not figuring he'd make finals, Fox left the track and went up to the balcony to watch his teammates in the long jump. To say he was pleased when word finally reached him, would be an understatement.
"On the bus ride in on Tuesday there was some discussion of the uniqueness of provisional entries in the NAIA," said CU coach Rod Wortley. "Deon said something about maybe not deserving to be here since he didn't hit the automatic standard, but that's one of the great things about track &field – just about anything can happen."
From the unexpected to what might have been the most predictable outcome of the day, the men's mile semifinals set up what should be an exciting match up for Saturday's final. In the first of two heats, top seed Matthew Clowes of Concordia, Oregon kept the pace a pedestrian 1:10 through 400 meters. Always in control the top seed moved things along and cruised to an easy win in 4:20.99. CU's Louis Falland, the number two seed, let the second heat play out in front of him for the first half mile before reigning in the field at 1200 meters. A solid 61 second last 400 meters put him in the clear and he coasted to the finish in 4:16.22 content to advance on place while Pauric McLaughlin of Lewis-Clark State pushed ahead to win in 4:16.19.
In addition to Falland in the mile and Fox in the hurdles, CU's Ross Raymond will compete in the shot put on the final day of competition.