By Mason Nesbitt, Sports Information Director
The Master’s University track and field coach Zach Schroeder has felt for a while that his men’s 4×800-meter relay was capable of qualifying for NAIA nationals.
Now he has the math to prove it.
Keylan Meneses, Isaac Ventura, Cameron Fooks and Kevin Pacheco each ran the 800 meters individually Saturday at the Pomona-Pitzer Invitational at Pomona College. Their times, collectively, would have been enough to hit the NAIA cut.
“All we need to do is run just like we did today with a baton in our hands and they’ll qualify at conference finals,” Schroeder said.
Meneses and Fooks each set new lifetime bests in the 800, a fact Schroeder pointed to as a sign the group is still improving as it prepares for the Golden State Athletic Conference Championships at Westmont College on April 26 and 27.
“I can’t wait to see how well these guys perform in three weeks,” the coach said.
Pacheco, for one, shares Schroeder’s confidence.
“By the time conference comes around, we will crush the standard,” said Pacheco, who cited focus as the key to the foursome reaching its potential.
“If our guys come mentally prepared for the race, then I will have no doubt in my mind,” he said.
Elsewhere Saturday, freshman Arianna Ghiorso made her 800 debut with the goal of practicing her closing speed in the 1,500, the race in which she already qualified for nationals.
Schroeder gave Ghiorso four goals in the 800, in this order: win her heat, close in a 66 second quarter, run as relaxed as possible, and try to be in the back of the race after the first 400 meters.
“Essentially the goal was to pass the entire field in the final 400 meters of the race,” said Schroeder after Ghiorso finished in 2 minutes, 17.3 seconds. “Ari accomplished everything I asked of her, closing out the race in 65 seconds.”
Another debut performance came from Mak van Wingerden in the high jump, where he recorded a mark of 1.6 meters. It was an opportunity for the sophomore to work on another piece of the decathlon he hopes to compete in at GSAC Championships.
Mak’s brother, Chatham, posted a new lifetime best in the long jump by two feet, jumping 5.51 meters, and matched his best mark in the high jump (1.6).
“A great day for the brothers,” Schroeder said.
Seanna Nalbandyan put together a great race in the 400 hurdles, finishing a few hundredths of a second off her best time, while Emily Hess (200) and Josh Nunez (5K) each ran new lifetime bests.
Stephen Pacheco recorded a new best time of 4:00.88 in the 1,500, an indicator, Schroeder believes, that he’s ready to PR in the 5K at the Bryan Clay Invitational in Azusa in two weeks.
Justin Harris crushed his previous best time in the 1,500, with Wesley Methum just missing a best time in the same event.
Davis Boggess and Ryan Harris set new lifetime bests in the 800.