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(Saginaw, Mich.) The Cornerstone University Men's Track & Field team wasted no time pursuing season goals at the Holiday Classic hosted by Saginaw Valley State University.
The Golden Eagles won the first event, last event and two others in between while recording three national qualifying performances and a freshman record.
Senior, Joel Leong got things going by landing his first attempt in the 35 pound weight throw 53' 11.75" - nearly eighteen inches beyond the NAIA automatic qualifying standard. After adding to his early lead with a 56' 7.5" effort on his second attempt, the 2009 All-American found himself in second place after Josh Koglin's third attempt went 58' 2". Leong responded with a 59'2.75" toss on his fourth throw to seal the win then added to that margin on his final attempt which measured 59' 9".
During the weight throw, Jared Courtright, Zach Yeo, Darryl Sluka and Cody Risch established the freshmen record in the distance medley relay. Their time of 11:20.25 placed third.
Fresh off the cross country season, Zach Ripley and Alex Green entered the 5,000 meters with the intention of using their fall fitness to achieve national qualifying marks. Ripley shot off the starting line and through the first of 25 laps in 31 seconds then extended his lead, lapping 14 of the 19 competitors in the race. Zach's winning time of 14:50.03 was a personal best by 29 seconds and well under the NAIA automatic standard of 15:15.75. Green raced patiently in the pack behind Ripley with mile splits of 4:42, 4:52 and 4:58. He finished third in 15:08.40, less than four seconds off his personal best and an automatic national qualifying mark.
In the 400 meters, freshman, Zach Yeo used an aggressive first lap of 23.7 to put himself in the lead which he held, taking the win in 50.79. Fellow freshman, Jeff Burd was third in 51.49 just ahead of senior Jake Erickson's 51.72.
Chad Butler took fourth in the pole vault. His 13' 7" clearance was just ¼" off the freshman record.
Kurtis Koffkey, Yeo, Burd and Erickson closed the meet with a solid win in the 4 x 400 meters. After trading the lead with Central Michigan during the first three legs, Burd opened a two meter gap before handing off to Erickson. Their winning time of 3:24.76 was just .26 over the NAIA provisional standard.
The Golden Eagles return to action on January 8 at Grand Valley State University.