Northridge Open prepares track team for Big West

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The Matadors track and field team wrapped up their regular season by setting a few personal records as they hosted the Northridge Open.

The Open had a little bit of everything with athletes from local High Schools competing, all the way up to an Olympic shot putter.

One personal record was set by CSUN freshman Jonathan Moore who had a long jump of 7.14 meters, finishing first, .15m further than second place finisher Ryan Donnelly of UC Santa Barbara. The mark beat Moore’s previous best of 6.90m he set at the Cal State L.A. Twilight Meet held April 9.

“I jumped 22-5 but it still did not qualify me for the (NCAA) regional meet, which is 24-1,” Moore said. “It was kind of a downfall because their wasn’t that much competition out there today, so it’s hard to get up for a meet where there’s no competition.”

Moore also had a triple jump of 14.78m, finishing .73m ahead of second place finisher Patrick Grogran from UC Irvine. Moore’s previous best was the 14.63m he set at the Mt. Sac Relays in Walnut.

Moore was the only jumper competing for the Matadors in the open because he and his coaches set a goal for him to reach the NCAA regional. However, Moore fouled the jump that could have earned him the ticket.

“Anytime you get a personal best, that’s good,” said Jeremy Fischer, Matador assistant head coach. “We were trying to achieve a mark with Jonathan (Moore) and we were short of it, but we know he has the talent to do it, so it’s kind of disappointing from that stand point.”

“But it puts him with the fourth or fifth best mark in conference,” Fischer said. “He took the necessary step to be right were he needs to be for the conference meet so I expect big things from him and the group as a whole.”

A few CSUN women battled on the track with UC Santa Barbara as Cristal Steen won the 200-meter dash, beating two Gauchos by .90 seconds.

CSUN’s Laura Olear finished .04 seconds behind Elise Geiger (UCSB) who won the 100-meter dash with a time of 12.61. Marianne Gerry came in second place in the 400-meter dash to Kerry Gamble (UCSB) who won the race with a time of 57.61.

Matador Damaine Mendoza beat UCSB’s Max Bellissimo to win the men’s 400-meter dash with a time of 48.57 seconds, while his teammates in the race Landen Llamas (49.49s), Sean Ballek (49.65s), Ronn Weatherspoon (50.69s) and Jay Komar (51.67s) finished third, fourth, seventh and eighth respectively.

The Matador men controlled their half of the track as Lamont Long won the 100-meter dash with a time of 10.86 and Umari Dufus finished third at 11.23. In the 200-meter dash, the two battled it out again with Long once again getting the best of Dufus by .30 seconds.

Matador Nelson Alfaro finished second in the men’s 800-meter run with a time of 1:57.23, while his teammate Jacinto Garcia finished fourth with a time of 1:59.49. US Paralympic Team member Abe Sauer finished fifth with a time of 1:59.85 in a field of nine runners.

The University of Utah sent dominating pole-vaulter Mandie Rowell, who reached higher in to the sky than her competition, en route to winning the women’s pole vault.

CSUN’s LaShana Verdon finished second in the Long Jump with her teammate Brittany Ricketts finishing third.

Olympic athlete Kristin Heaston gave a free education in the Discus with a throw of 17.62m, giving the Matadors’ Ashley Arbuckle (13.94m) and Tori Curtis (10.63m) a goal to strive for in the future.

In the Hammer Throw Matador Tatiana Crochet finished first with a throw of 54.76m ahead of her teammates Tukia Vakalahi (52.18m) and Jessica Beach (49.72m).

“Tatiana set a personal best,” said Dale Cowper, assistant Matador track and field coach. “Vakalahi threw well but it was a small competition and a young thrower, Jessica Beach is coming on. As you come down to the end of the season it becomes easier to get performances out of the athletes, since each meet is big for them.

“The Big West (Conference Championship) is our most important meet of the year for us,” Cowper said. “Winning team conference championships is what this program is about and what it stands for.”

Tomas Fajardo won the Men’s shot put with a heave of 51.24m while his teammate, Roy Hooks, did not fair as well in the hammer throw. Hooks fouled four of his five throws, finishing sixth with a toss of 44.17m. Carl Robbins finished second in the Javelin Throw with a final sling of 52.00m.

The Matadors were honored when Alex Marbley (High Jump) and Toni Smith (Long Jump) were named Athlete of the week for May 4 by the Big West conference for their performances at Cal Poly’s five-team meet last weekend.

“There’s nothing I can do this week to get them (jumpers) ready for next week,” Fischer said. “Just a lot of speed things to make sure their muscles are firing. We could only hinder them, so we just try not to do things to over push them. We have a light week as far as working out because we have the highest output, mentally and physically, coming up,” Fischer said.

Next up for the Matadors is the Big West Outdoor Championships next weekend (May 11-14) at UC Irvine’s Anteater Stadium. The Matador’s will be trying to repeat as Conference champions.

“Coach has us on a program that we peak at conference,” Moore said. “Hopefully at conference I’ll reach my peak and score some points for the team so we can win another Big West Championship,” Moore said.