The sun shone bright this weekend on Raider Stadium as temperatures rose up near eighty degrees for the SOU track and field team to debut its new track. For most members of the team, this will be their first time participating in a home meet. It has been more than 5 years since the last home meet for the Raiders. “It was an awesome feeling, running on new the track in front of our fans” said distance runner Jessie Rozario, who had never participated in a home track meet before. Sprinter JJ Latu commented to say “I’m very grateful to come out here and showcase for the community and all of our fans”. Latu placed third in the men’s 200 meters and took over one of the top two spots on the conference list with a time of 22.18.
Latu wasn’t the only Raider to perform well during the SOU Raider Open. Amelia Maguin set an SOU record and NAIA qualifying time on the home turf. Maguin finished with a time of 24.60 seconds in the 200 meters. This edged out her previous best mark of 24.97 seconds. Maguin and Rozario also carried the baton for the women’s 4×800 team which set a school record of 9:22.16. Accompanying them was Aspen Abbot, and Anna Reitman. The time gives them an “A” standard and placed the team at number six on the NAIA performance list. The men’s 4×800 was ran by Henry Hall, Zach Boyd-Helm, Matt Williams, and Dylan Alexander. They hit a time of 7:43.74 which also qualified them with an automatic mark for the NAIA championship. Boyd-Helm and was first with a time of 1:50.92 in the men’s open 800 meters with Kevin Jorgenson shortly behind to place second with 1:52.52. Boyd-Helm obtained an “A” standard and is placed number 3 in the NAIA for his performance.
The field events were led by Markus Sanders who improved on his previous marks in the discus (176 feet 3 inches) and hammer toss (193 feet 3 inches). Sanders upped his personal hammer mark by 14 feet, but, he was still short from the school record marks by less than two feet. Danny Parks won the shot put with a mark of 45 feet and 8.5 inches as Breanna Buckles was first in the women’s hammer (141 feet 4 inches) and second in the discus (122 feet 10.5 inches). Anthony Neal won the long jump of 15 with personal best mark of (22 inches .25 inches).
For the first meet on the new track in Raider Stadium, the Raiders had made their presence known in the Cascade Conference. The community came out with strong support as they filled the stands and circled the fences to encourage the many athletes performing in their events. According to JJ Latu, “It felt like a football game having all these people here”. The Raiders will need some more support as they will be holding the CCC championship at home on May 8th and 9th.