Saturday provided a home-field advantage of sorts for freshman Seanna Nalbandyan, one the Mustang track and field athlete has grown accustomed to.
So even though she was technically 75 miles north of her hometown, and even though she wasn’t running the event she specializes in, she still felt the rush of familial support as she won the 400-meter dash at the On Your Marks meet at Westmont College in Santa Barbara.
Six family members gathered to watch as the Canyon High of Santa Clarita graduate posted the third-fastest 400 time in TMU women’s history (59.84 seconds), taking first in the event ahead of runners from Bakersfield College, Claremont-Mudd-Scripps and Concordia University Irvine.
“They’ve always been there to support me,” Nalbandyan said. “It touched me when they came out to my first collegiate track meet. It made me want to run harder for them.”
Other Mustang highlights on a day meant as an early season tune-up included Tess Thompson’s time in the 60 meters (8.68) and the women’s 4×800 relay, where the Mustangs took second.
Nalbandyan’s meet-best time in the 400 came despite the fact she specializes in the 400 hurdles. At Canyon High last season, she won the Foothill League championship in the 100 and 300 hurdles. She finished eighth at the CIF Southern Section finals in the 300 hurdles.
That left few, well, hurdles in her way to coming to Master’s, where the coaching staff has built a strong relationship with Canyon’s staff over the years.
Some of TMU’s best athletes were once Cowboys. In fact, the program’s first woman to advance to the NAIA track nationals, Hayley Parkinson, came from Canyon, located nine miles from TMU’s campus.
Nalbandyan appears to have All-American potential, a hard worker with a goal and the talent to make it happen.
“Seanna has worked incredibly hard all fall and winter long,” said Master’s Coach Zach Schroeder. “Master’s sprints and hurdles coach Denean) Hill has done an outstanding job with her training. It’s fun to finally get to see her race.”
Does Nalbandyan believe she could be an All-American as soon as this year?
“I think I could do it,” she said. “I put in a lot of hard work, and I know it will pay off. If I have the Lord by my side, it will work out in the end.”
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