Wildcats win eight event championships in CMU Invite

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With the Heart of America Athletic Conference Championships just four weeks away, the Baker University track and field teams would have normally considered Saturday’s meet to be the middle of their season.

However, the Central Methodist University Invitational in Fayette, Mo., marked the only meet Mother Nature has allowed the entire Wildcat squad to compete in. Despite this delay in the season, Baker won eight event championships.

“I’m very pleased with where we are at right now,” head coach Zach Kindler said. “I am very pleased with how we are developing, but it’s an ongoing process for us.”

Kindler said the Wildcats are training to peak near the conference championships, but several athletes posted seasonal-best performances Saturday.

There were separate results for the athletes competing from the American Midwest Conference, as the performances of those athletes were scored as part of its conference meet and not the CMU Invitational.

Junior Katie Thurbon earned a first-place finish in the pole vault with a mark of 3.51 meters, which surpassed the national B standard. Thurbon finished as the runner-up in the pole vault during the NAIA Outdoor National Championships last season, and may have the chance to repeat as an All-American in May.

Sophomore Tyler Sloan improved on her national-qualifying time in the 100-meter hurdles with a mark of 14.12 seconds. She also finished first in the event.

Freshman DayShawn Berndt and senior Jeremy Gathright swept the top two spots in the 200-meter dash. Berndt posted a time of 22.04 and Gathright finished just behind at 22.10.

Junior Cooper Clark and sophomore Kerry Kurta won the men’s and women’s steeplechase, respectively. Clark’s winning time was 10.49.04, while Kurta finished in 12:11.48.

Junior Megan Rosa also won the 5,000-meter run with a time of 18:29.83. Junior Lauren Jaqua finished second in the event with a time of 18:35.62.

Senior Terren Craddock-Moore had a first-place finish in the triple jump with a mark of 13.47 meters. The Wildcats also grabbed two other spots in the top five of the triple jump as freshman Avery Parker finished second and senior Travis Miller came in fourth.

The men’s 4×800-meter relay team of freshman Jeremy Bryan and seniors Taylor Nall, Eric Larson and Kellen Kristoffersen rounded out the Wildcats’ event champions as the squad finished first with a time of 7:56.95.

BU is set to compete Saturday in the Darrel Gournley Open in Liberty, Mo. and will continue its schedule April 17-20 as members from the men’s and women’s teams compete in the Kansas Relays in Lawrence.

Kindler will most likely send Baker’s national qualifiers and other top athletes to the meet to provide an opportunity for them to compete against elite programs similar to those they might face in the NAIA National Championships.

“It gets them used to that level of competition, and if we can go over there and compete and have great marks and great times, then obviously we will be pleased,” Kindler said.