Pittsburg, KS – It was a historic and record setting day for the Central Christian College men's and women's track and field program. The Tigers took 10 individuals, 9 men and 1 woman, who qualified for the meet based on the times and distances from earlier meets throughout the indoor season, to the NAIA Indoor Championships, hosted at Pittsburg State University.
Of the 10 Tigers who travelled to Pittsburg for the championships, 8 of them qualified for the finals of their events. It started with the men's 4x400m relay prelims on Thursday afternoon. The Tiger team of Alan Leyva, Carlos Vela, Alfred Thomas, and Derek White, set a new school record, and qualified for the finals with the second fastest time of the prelims.
On Friday, things ramped up for the Tigers. They started with the Long Jump, where Malik Johnson qualified for the finals, with a new personal best and a school record, as the 8th of 9 seeds. They held the finals shortly after the prelims were completed and Johnson ended up finishing in 9th place, by .03 cm.
Also on Friday were the prelims of the sprint events. Amanda Murray won her heat and went into the finals as the 3rd seed. Next up the men raced in the 60m. The Tigers had two men in the event, but only John Jones was able to qualifiy for the finals. Qawtavis Johnson, one of the favorites to win the event suffered an injury just like that his meet was over. After all of the 60m prelim races, Jones would be seeded 8th for the finals. In the 200m, the next event, the Tigers' Alfred Thomas qualified for his second final of the meet. He was also a part of the men's 4x400m relay.
With the exception of the jumping events, any competitor who qualifies for the finals is guaranteed to be named as an All-American, provided they start and finish the race.
On Saturday, the finals began with the women's 60m hurdles. Murray who was seeded 3rd, finished as the runner up. She ran a great race, finishing in. 8.68 running a new personal best and setting a new school record. By finishing the race, she became the first ever NAIA All-Amercian in Track and Field.
She would be joined in the All-American club shortly after that by John Jones, who, though seeded 8th in the men's 60m Dash, finished in 4th with a time of 6.77. Alfred Thomas became the 3rd NAIA All-Amercian, finishing 8th in the men's 200m Dash.
In the jumping events, they take the top 9 finishers in the prelims into the finals. Of those 9, the top 8 in the finals are named All-American. Malik Johnson who made the finals of the long jump on Thursday evening just missed out of All-American status. He bounced back in the triple jump, making the finals and then finishing in 7th, becoming the 4th individual to be named an All-American.
The final event for the Tigers was the finals of the men's 4x400m relay. It was an extremely fast race. The Tigers finished on the podium with a 3rd place finish, running 3:13.88, and smashing the school record the set on Thursday by 7 seconds.
In all, the Tigers came home with 8 All-American certificates, from 7 individuals. Amanda Murray representing the Tiger women, scored 8 points with her runner up finish in the 60m hurdles. Those 8 points put the Tiger women in a tie for 28th place out of 55 teams that scored. The men a total of 14 points which placed them in a tie for 15thplace.
"This was a historic day for Central," said Tiger head coach Mike Anderson, who is in just his second year at the helm of the Tiger programs. "To have 7 of the 10 kids who came to nationals get All-American is an awesome thing, a huge credit to our kids! They worked hard all year and have been a very coach able group. There are factors people don't even know: no track! No hurdles! No jump pit! All those factors and we still had the national runner up in the women's hurdles and an All-American in the triple jump. The kids deserve even more credit, for being optimistic all year. I love this group and this is laying the foundation for great things to come!"