Matadors have solid performances at conference championships

The CSUN track and field team earned its first points of the 2007 Big West Championships during the multi-events portion of the competition at the Matador Track and Field Complex over the weekend. Freshman Robert Robinson took second place in the decathlon with 6,656 points and freshman Owen Morse took sixth with 6,146 points. Senior Brittany Ricketts took third in the heptathlon with 5,151 points and freshman Desirae Gonder took fourth with 4,860 points. All four athletes earned points for CSUN, with both the men’s and women’s teams tallying 11 points.

Robinson had a career-best performance, winning several of the events, including the 100-meter dash with a time of 11.11 seconds, the long jump with a distance of 7.03 meters, the 400-meter dash with a time of 50.96 seconds, and the 100-meter hurdles at 14.96 seconds. Robinson was third in the 1500 meters, running the race in 4:52.20 and his distance of 11.85 meters in the shot put was fourth. In the other events, Robinson jumped 1.80 in the high jump, cleared 3.45 meters in the pole vault, and threw the javelin 45.63 meters and the discus 34.41 meters.

Freshman Owen Morse took second in the shot put with a distance of 12.41 meters and also in the 110-meter hurdles with a time of 15.03 seconds. Morse was third in the 100- meter dash, finishing in 11.22 seconds, and he tied for fourth in the high jump, clearing 1.86 meters. Morse ran the 400 meters in 55.21 seconds and the 1500 meters in 5:21.01. His long jump distance was 6.40 meters, he cleared 3.25 meters in the pole vault, and he threw the javelin 43.35 meters.

Ricketts also had a career-best performance, winning the shot put with a distance of 12.52 meters and the long jump with a leap of 6.00 meters. Her time of 14.17 in the 100-meter hurdles was second best and she took third in the 200-meter dash with a time of 25.31. Ricketts cleared 1.60 meters in the high jump, threw the javelin 27.71 meters, and ran the 800 meters in 2:35.73.

Gonder took third in both the 100-meter hurdles, running 14.99 seconds, and in the high jump where she cleared 1.69 meters. She placed fourth in the 200 meters, running 25.78 seconds and in the long jump with a distance of 5.59 meters. Gonder’s shot put was 8.22 meters, she threw the javelin 28.53 meters, and ran the 800 meters in 2:24.09.

The decathlon winner was senior James Nunno of Cal Poly with 6,772 points. Nunno won the pole vault with a height of 4.65 meters and he finished second in four events, including the 100-meter dash at 11.21 seconds, the 400 meters at 51.22 seconds, the 110-meter hurdles at 16.44 seconds and the1500 meters at 4:48.28 seconds.

Sophomore Lauren Collins from UC Irvine won the heptathlon with 5,512 poins, breaking her own school record and qualifying for the NCAA Championships. Collins won the 100-meter hurdles in 13.98 seconds and placed second in the 200 meters with a time of 24.84 seconds and the 800 meters with a time of 2:19.41. She also placed second in the high jump at 1.78 meters and the javelin with a throw of 36.04 meters.

Absent from the competition was CSUN’s La’Shana Verdon, last year’s heptathlon champion. Verdon, a senior, suffered a knee injury earlier in the season, and although CSUN coaches had hoped as recently as two weeks ago that she could recover in time to compete, she did not.

Assistant coach Avery Anderson said Verdon had scored more points than anyone in the conference over the last two years and she scored 28 points in the championship meet last year.

“We’re going to miss her on the track in terms of her points, but it’s that silent leadership that she provides. She’s the hardest worker out here,” Anderson said. “That kind of person is once, I hope not once in a career, but very rare. She personifies what I wish more people would understand. If you do the work, you’re going to get the benefit.”

Head coach Don Stametz said a couple of weeks ago that if Verdon couldn’t compete, that the team would do its best to win the conference championship for her.

“La’Shana Verdon has been the heart and soul and blood of this team for the last few years at the conference championship,” Strametz said. “If she can’t go, then we will win the conference championship for her. We’ll do the best we can.”

The Big West Championships continue Friday and Saturday at the Matador Track and Field Complex.