Cloud County Track And Field Posts 10 National Qualifying Marks, Three National Records for Papua New Guinea Natives
Picking up where they left off on Friday night, the Cloud County Community College women's and men's track and field teams would have a second day of strong showings against NCAA Division I competition to close out the 2022 University of Nebraska Graduate Classic inside the Bob Devaney Sports Center in Lincoln, Nebraska.
As a follow-up to seven national qualifying marks being set on their first day of competition in the 2022 indoor season, the T-Birds would have a second day of having athletes look in mid-season form as an additional 10 national qualifying marks being set. Among the national qualifying marks was a trio of Indoor National Records from athletes from Papua New Guinea as Emmanuel Wanga would post a National Indoor Record time in the 400 meters before joining Jonathan Dende, Alphonse Igish, and Shadrick Tansi to help set the National Indoor Record in the 4x400 meter relay for their native country while the CCCC women saw Leonie Beu run a national qualifying time and Papua New Guinea record of 1:35.69 in the 600 meters as part of a runner-up finish.
Wanga's time in the 400 meters of 48.67 would highlight an event win for the T-Birds in day one of action and the sophomore was at it again on Saturday by running the third leg of the 4x400 meter relay that would post a national qualifying time of 3:18.24 and finish second in the event. Wanga would also qualify for the 2022 NJCAA Indoor National Championships in the 600 meters by besting the 14-runner field with a time of 1:20.81.
The Cloud County men would also get a national qualifying mark from freshman Ben Okraska in the pole vault as the Harvard, Nebraska native would clear 4.40 meters (14 ft. – 5.25 in.) to take fifth in his only event of the day. After running the fastest time in the preliminary round of the 60 meters on Friday, Freider Fornasari would take third after running a time of 6.89 in the finals. In addition to Wanga's winning time in the 600 meters, the T-Birds would also have the fourth (Ephraim Lerkin, 1:23.78), fifth (Jonathan Dende, 1:23.84), and sixth (Raziel Patton, 1:24.08) place finishers in the event to go along with an eighth-place finish from Igish in the 200 meters (22.72) and Deandre Elliot in the triple jump (11.39 meters, 37 ft. – 4.5 in.).
Accounting for seven of the national qualifying marks on Saturday would be the Cloud County women as Vanessa Mercera (high jump, 1.65 meters, 5 ft. – 5 in.) and Pamela Milano (600 meters, 1:36.64) would both earn individual qualifying marks in addition to helping the CCCC 4x400 meter relay team (Isila Apkup, Milano, Mercera, and Passion Crews) run a qualifying time of 4:00.32. The relay team would finish in third place while Beu would finish second in the 600 meters and Mercera taking seventh in the high jump.
For the second straight day, freshman Melody Ochana would post a national qualifying time with the freshman finishing fourth in the 800 meters with a qualifying time of 2:24.14 among a 14-runner field. Abigail Fisher (2:26.13) and Passion Crews (2:27.19) would finish right behind Ochana in fifth and sixth in the event in addition to Sicely Jackson taking eighth (2:32.53) to give CCCC four top-eight finishers in the event, the best of the weekend for the Cloud County women.
The final two national qualifying marks would come courtesy of Hollie Stewart in the shot put (12.78 meters, 41 ft. – 11.25 in.) and Faithlyn Irving in the triple jump (11.24 meters, 36 ft. – 10.5 in.). Both Stewart and Irving would finish eighth in their respective events as did Miracle Thompson in the 60 meters hurdles (8.88 seconds). One final top-eight finish would be had on Saturday in the 60 meters as Apkup would run a time of 7.77 in the preliminary round to make the finals where she ran a time of 7.83 to take fourth.
Sunflower State pride and bragging rights will be on the line next weekend as the T-Birds will travel to Topeka, Kansas to take part in the Washburn University All-Kansas Invitational. The field, which will consist entirely of schools from the state of Kansas, is set for Saturday, January 22nd inside the Washburn University Indoor Athletic Facility.