LOS ANGELES — A handful of the athletes on the Occidental track teams had the opportunity to end their seasons on a high note, competing side-by-side with professionals and top-tier collegiate opponents in their final meet of the season before the NCAA Division III championships.
Edmond O'Suji (Houston, Texas) was one of the headlines on the day for the Tigers, finishing the final individual meet of his career with personal bests in both the 100 and 200 meters. O'Suji crossed the line in 11.17 in the 100 race that was contested earlier in the meet and came back to post a 22.65 in the 200.
Stephanie Scamman (Northridge) also made the most of her last collegiate track meet, posting an impressive personal best in the 200 and coming up just short of her best time in the 100. Scamman finished the 200 in 26.62, a .17 second improvement on her previous best, and posted a 12.89 in the 100.
A couple of Tigers took this last meet as an opportunity to run races that they do not normally compete in during the intense regular season. Deanna Dupuy (Newbury Park) and Colin Smith (Las Vegas, Nev.), who focus on the 1500 and 5000 races during the SCIAC season, both came away with impressive performances in the 800. Dupuy posted a 2:21.60, almost a 3-second personal best in just her second time competing in the race at Oxy, and Smith ran a 1:58.85 in his first collegiate 800.
On the field event side, Parker Johnson (Santa Ynez) stole the show for the Tigers. The sophomore posted a huge collegiate best in the pole vault, jumping 13'11" and finishing third in the event. That jump was about a foot better than his previous best.
Although the meet did not attract the same amount of top competition as the Oxy Invite the previous week, a few of the big names in the sport were back to run on Bill Henry Track.
Walter Dix, the former NCAA champion and two-time Olympic bronze medalist, took the overall best time in the 100, posting, what is for him, a pedestrian 10.30. Fellow former collegiate star Carol Rodriguez, who now competes nationally for Puerto Rico, won the women's 100 in 11.38.
Ryan Martin, the former University of California- Santa Barbara star, was the other big name on the day. Martin finished first overall in the 800, posting a time of 1:47.27.
With less than a week to go before the field is announced for the National Championships, sprinter Jonathan Padron (Kapolei, Hawaii) and the men's 4x100, consisting of Padron, O'Suji, Kevin Cox (Sedona, Ariz.) and Jesse Wong (San Mateo), sit in position to qualify. Padron is currently ranked 10thnationally in the 100 and the 4x100 ranks 15th. The top 18 competitors/teams qualify in each sprint event.
Padron looks to be in very solid position to qualify, while the 4x100 will have to wait until the final moment to see if they have narrowly made the cutoff mark.
The NCAA Division III track and field season concludes with its annual championships on May 23-25 in La Crosse, Wisconsin.