Oklahoma Baptist University's track teams will be hard-pressed to compete for a national team title, but the Bison and Lady Bison hope to be atop the awards platform in several events at the 2004 NAIA Outdoor Track and Field Championships in Louisville, Ky., Thursday-Saturday.
The Bison, beset by injuries, will not focus on the team title. Instead, they will go for high quality in a few events, with some athletes forsaking events in which they qualified.
"The guys decided last week that with as many injuries as we have that we really aren't in the hunt for a national championship as a team," said OBU coach Ford Mastin. "We are going to look for national recognition in a few events. Basically, we want to set some meet records, keep up our tradition of reaching the finals in the mile relay, and get Pat Brown through this meet with his dream of the Olympic Trials in tact."
Brown, who is just off the pace for the U.S. Olympic Trials in the hurdles, has been diagnosed with a severely sunken arch on his landing foot.
"If Pat Brown wins an event at this meet, it will be a major accomplishment," said Mastin. "He worked out (Monday) and he was hurting. We at first thought it was a stress fracture, so he's spent a lot of time in the pool and on the bike, instead of on the track."
Brown has the top time in the 110 hurdles and the second-fastest time in the 400 hurdles in the NAIA.
The goal of having the 4x400 reach the finals is also a tall order. All-American Clint Goodson has missed most of the season with gall bladder surgery and will not be available. Sheldon Lee is also out with injury. Mastin also plans to hold Brown out until the finals. That leaves OBU veterans Jeff Thompson and Travis Pearman running with freshmen Leonarde Smith and Bryce Bell.
"The mile relay is going to be interesting," Mastin said. "We've reached the finals 14 of the last 15 years and we're going to try to get there again without Pat. We're putting a lot of pressure on those two freshmen."
OBU also boasts the best two-mile relay team in the nation and its members will concentrate on that event. That means Landon Willets will forgo the 1500 meters and Pearman and Dave Sitzer will skip the 800 meters. Freshman Michael Elizondo will round out the foursome.
Also competing for the Bison will be Daniel Ellis in the marathon, Leonarde Smith in the 400 hurdles, Dominique Chan Low in the triple jump, Jeremiah Campo in the discus and Mike Chavez in the javelin.
The Bison, on paper, appear to be a top 10 contender, but they will need those gutsy performances by Brown and the 4x400 relay team to realize that success.
On the women's side, Azusa Pacific is a very strong favorite for a team title, but the Lady Bison look like a definite top five contender.
"The girls look good," Mastin said. "We have some possible national champions and our best chance at that is Mirriam Kaumba."
Kaumba comes into the meet with the nation's best times in the 5,000 and 10,000 meters and she will compete in both of those grueling races.
"We asked Mirriam if she wanted to compete in just the 5,000 meters so she could focus on meeting her nation's (Zambia) standard for the Olympics, but she wants to run the 10,000 meters also," Mastin said. "She needs a 16:30 to have a chance at the Olympics and so far her best time has been 16:42. There's a little drama there."
OBU's two-mile relay team of Melissa and Andrea Mount, Chandra Huckabay and Kyta Ferrer have turned in a national top time this season and will try to hold off Azusa Pacific, Simon Fraser and Black Hills.
The mile relay team took a blow when anchor leg Amanda Vaughan left the team for personal reasons, but Ferrer, Huckabay, Melissa Mount and Kyli Bean will try to give the Lady Bison scoring in the event.
Ferrer also will compete in the 800 meters.
Mastin said Kari Nunneley could be a big factor in the 3,000 steeplechase, where she will challenge defending national champion Kristina Proticova of Northwest College. Nunneley has had the fourth best time nationally this season.
Another factor could by Keyonna Hornbuckle, who has had the fifth-best time this season in the 400 hurdles.
OBU will be without triple jumper Mai Fukada, who has returned home to Japan due to a grave family illness. Michelle Carpenter and Deena Almohandis, who finished second and third in the indoor high jump, will be pressed to repeat that finish outdoors. Almohandis also will compete in the long jump. Becky Hamm will compete in the triple jump.
This will be the last national outdoor meet for Sitzer, Thompson and Nunneley. Sitzer will be eligible for next year's indoor nationals.
3:15 p.m. - Men's 110m Hurdle Trials (Pat Brown)
4:50 p.m. - Women's 800m Trials (Kyta Ferrer)
5:30 p.m. - Women's 400m Hurdles Trials (Keyonna Hornbuckle)
5:45 p.m. - Men's 400m Hurdles Trials (Pat Brown and Leonarde Smith)
6 p.m. - Men's Javelin FINALS (Mike Chavez)
6 p.m. - Women's Long Jump FINALS (Deena Almohandis)
7 p.m. - Women's 4x800 Relay Trials (Melissa Mount, Andrea Mount, Kyta Ferrer, Chandra Huckabay)
7:25 p.m. - Men's 4x800 Relay Trials (Landon Willets, Travis Pearman, Dave Sitzer, Michael Elzondo)
7:50 p.m. - Women's Steeplechase Trials (Kari Nunneley)
8:35 p.m. - Women's 10,000m FINALS (Mirriam Kaumba)
1 p.m. - Men's 110m Hurdles semifinals
3:15 p.m. - Women's 800m semifinals
4:35 p.m. - Men's 110m Hurdles FINALS
5:10 p.m. - Women's 400m Hurdles semifinals
5:25 p.m. - Men's 400m Hurdles semifinals
5:45 p.m. - Women's Triple Jump FINALS (Becky Hamm)
6:20 p.m. - Women's 4x800 Relay FINALS
6:40 p.m. - Men's 4x800 Relay FINALS
7 p.m. - Women's 5000m semifinals (Mirriam Kaumba)
8:15 p.m. - Women's 4x400 Relay semifinals (Kyta Ferrer, Keyonna Hornbuckle, Melissa Mount, Kyli Bean)
8:35 p.m. - Men's 4x400 Relay semifinals (Leonarde Smith, Bryce Bell, Jeff Thompson, Travis Pearman)
6:30 a.m. - Men's Marathon (Daniel Ellis)
1:30 p.m. - Men's Triple Jump FINALS (Dominique Chan Low)
2 p.m. - Women's Steeplechase FINALS
3 p.m. - Men's Discus FINALS (Jeremiah Campo)
4 p.m. - Women's 400 Hurdles FINALS
4:10 p.m. - Men's 400 Hurdles FINALS
4:40 p.m. - Women's 800m FINALS
5:20 p.m. - Women's 5000m FINALS
6 p.m. - Women's 4x400 Relay FINALS
6:30 p.m. - Men's 4x400 Relay FINALS