WINONA LAKE, INDIANA
The Southwestern Assemblies of God University men's and women's track-and-field teams recently competed May 12 in the NCCAA National Outdoor Track Championships at Grace College in Winona Lake, Indiana.
And one long-distance runner claimed the first national championship in program history.
Freshman Destiny Barclift became the first sprinter — male or female — in program history to compete at the national level. She qualified in the 100 meters and also raced in the 200-meter dash.
Barclift finished 17th in the 100-meter race and 20th overall in the 200 meters.
Head track coach Jason Covarrubias said, "We are extremely proud of Destiny. She has accomplished a lot in such a short time and cannot wait to see her progress over time. She is in a good spot and we are extremely proud of her."
The three members of the men's track team also competed in the championships — sophomore captain Robert Herrera, sophomore Cody Walker, and junior Adrian Cedillo. The trio competed in eight events over the two-day championships at Grace College.
Herrera and Cedillo started the run of events with the 10,000 meters on Thursday evening. Herrera came in with the second fastest time and Cedillo the sixth in the preliminaries.
In the finals, Herrera then first in dramatic fashion to claim the first NCCAA National Champion crown in SAGU men's track-and-field history. Cedillo, who also ran a smart race, finished in fourth place to give the Lions 15 points after day one.
The next morning, Walker and Cedillo competed in the 3000-meter Steeplechase, and again the men were seated well below where they finished.
Walker paced his way to a third-place finish as he demolished the school record with the time of 9:52.80 and became an NCCAA All-American. Cedillo's amazing double — less than 18 hours after the 10,000 meters — finished in seventh place.
The two combined for eight points.
Finally, the trio of Hererra, Walker, and Cedillo then competed in the 5,000-meter run.
This event completed a triple for Cedillo along with Walker, who had finished 14th in the 1,500-meter race an hour after the 3,000-meter steeplechase.
"The race was fast as expected but the guys really buckled down and gave it a great effort," Covarrubias said. "Herrera's effort, who finished in 8th place, came up big for us. His one point was enough to hold off Biola University as the men's team of three runners finished 11th out of 23 teams that scored one point or more."
He continued, "I am extremely proud of our four. Destiny has positioned us in a nice spot for the future, you have to get one to get two to get ten, and she is one. The men all had a gutsy performance, especially at such a high level. Adrian Cedillo, regardless if he is not a national champion or an All-American could easily be named the athlete of the meet. He ran in 18,000 meters, which included 35 steeple jumps in less than 24 hours. His eight points were huge!
"You cannot forget our newest national champion and both of the All-American honors by our sophomores — Robert and Cody. We nearly cracked the top-10 with three guys, that is mind-blowing. The future is bright for our program, and I am excited."
Next up is the NAIA National Outdoor Championships in Gulf Shore, Alabama on May 31-June 2. Robert Herrera, Cody Walker, and Adrian Cedillo will compete in the marathon.