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(Upland, Ind.) The last time the Cornerstone Track & Field team competed at the Taylor Indoor Invitational, a blizzard almost prevented them from returning home. For the 2010 edition, similar weather prevented several teams from arriving. Inside the Kesler Activities Center, conditions were ideal as the Golden Eagles had five top-three finishes.
After giving the freshman record in the 1,000 meters a scare the previous week, Jared Courtright was determined to claim it for himself. Needing to average 31.8 seconds per 200 meter lap, Courtright ran a well paced race clicking off splits of 30.9, 31.8, 31.7 and 31.9. His final lap of 32.2 brought him across the finish line in 2:38.58. Zach Ripley saw his mark of 2:39.11 from 2007 taken down and was the first to congratulate his teammate.
It was Ripley, though who provided the most excitement of the meet. His strategy for the 3,000 meters was to go through the mile in 4:32-36 and then see what would happen. Eight laps into the fifteen lap race, Zach split 4:34. What he didn't count on was Mike Morgan of Aquinas sitting right behind him. Ripley adjusted the pace from 33-34 seconds per lap to 35-36 seconds with Morgan still in tow. Aquinas and Cornerstone athletes and fans lined the backstretch and homestretch and their cheering increased with each lap. Everyone on both teams knew Ripley possessed the better finishing kick. Morgan, being keenly aware of this, made a courageous move to take the lead with 230 meters remaining. At the bell lap, both runners were already kicking hard. Ripley followed through the first turn then unleashed a remarkable burst of speed on the backstretch, drawing even then sailing past. The two-time national runner up in the steeplechase completed a 28.6 second last lap to win in a personal best and national qualifying time of 8:38.56, three seconds ahead of Morgan. Ripley stood past the finish line with a big smile, celebrating the win with his teammates before reaching down to congratulate Morgan, who was on his hand and knees, on a well-run race.
Courtright returned to anchor the distance medley relay. The squad of Cody Risch, Travis Mabe, Darryl Sluka and Jared were gunning for the freshman record of 11:20.25 set back in December. Courtright's 4:37 for 1600 meters brought the record down another three seconds as CU took fourth in 11:17.30.
Other top performances included Alex Green's personal best, 4:27.80 in the mile, which was good for third place. Zach Yeo took second in the 400 meters in 50.09.
The 4 x 400 relay team of Kurtis Koffkey, Yeo, Adam Duerksen and Jacob Erickson got a good race from the host team with the Golden Eagles taking the win in a season best 3:23.04.
Joel Leong concluded the meet with one more CU win, taking first in the 35 pound weight throw. His best toss of 57' 2.25" gave him a winning margin of nearly three feet.