Running to new heights

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Michael Sampson--Track athletes run to glorify God and reach championship.

The track season at California Baptist University began with a bang as two runners qualified for the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics Indoor Championships.

Their achievements brought optimism to the team as they look ahead to the rest of the season.

The first part of the track season consists of Indoor Championship qualifying meets and the Indoor Championship which takes place March 3 – March 5. After this event, the team begins the outdoor section of their season.

Indoor track poses extra challenges for the athletes because there is a short period of time between the beginning of the season and the championship event. “It is tough for indoor track because there are only eight weeks to prepare the athletes and really only six weeks to qualify,” Assistant Coach, Sean Henning, said.

At the Azusa Pacific Indoor All Comers meet on Feb. 12, Ashlee Cervantes and Chase Williams ran NAIA Championship qualifying times in the 1,000 meter event.

Cervantes’ time of 2:59.91 set a school record for the event and is the 15th ranked time in the country.

Williams, a sophomore with a double major in behavioral science and Christian studies, hopes to whittle his time of 2:31.29 down to 2:26.00.

In addition to the indoor 1,000 meter, Williams also competes in the outdoor 800 meter where his goal time is 1:50.00. Williams’ season goal has shifted since his NAIA qualification but as for now he will focus more on his 1,000 meter event.

Originally Williams was scheduled to run the 800 meter race at the indoor event but a last minute change forced him to run the 1,000 meter at the meet.

“In the Indoor I was planning and preparing to run the 800 meter, but they cancelled the 800 meter and I had to run the 1,000 meter instead,” Williams said. “That was the first time I have ever ran the 1,000 meter and did not really know how to run the two hundred meters of extra pain.”

Head Coach Wade Watkins has high expectations for his team of runners this season. After coaching some of these same athletes in a successful cross country season in the fall, he has much optimism for the team’s chances.

“Our goal is to bring eight to 12 people to the NAIA National Championships and I think we will achieve it. The light at the end of the tunnel is for us to qualify as many for these championships as possible,” he said.

The indoor/outdoor track program is fairly new at CBU, as it was started in 2008. Watkins witnessed tremendous growth in his athletes and his program. “The runners have without a doubt improved statistically since the beginning of the program,” he said.

Watkins embeds in his team a strong desire to run not for themselves but for the glory of God. This has been evidenced in the team’s latest success story.

“I have learned to use running to glorify God and be a positive light on the team,” Williams said.

Williams also described how running once was his identity and now his athleticism comes second to his intention to glorify the Lord.

Lancers compete next at the Rossi Relays in Claremont, CA on Feb. 26.

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