By Albert Monge, Contributing Writer (Courtesy photo/Bison Athletics)
The Oklahoma Baptist University Track and Field team has a tradition of excellence that just keeps on running.
In the last two years, both the men’s and women’s track teams have won the National Championships in the NCCAA (National Christian College Athletic Association) under the direction of head coach Ford Mastin.
Mastin was inducted into the Drake Relays Hall of Fame last year for his reputation of success and history of winning.
The team headed to Waco, Texas to compete in the Baylor Invitational over the weekend. Breanna Hurlbut, a senior from Morgan, Utah, said that she thinks the competition that they do at the meet is a learning experience for the team.
“We still have things to work on. I’m excited for everyone to do well and have good competition,” Hurlbut said.
The mid-distance runner is working her way back from injury and wants to do whatever will benefit her team the most.
Hurlbut was not only a Great American Conference (GAC) champion, but also an All-American in the 4×400 relay.
Hurlbut was not the only one that the injury bug took a bite out of this season. Emily Sechrist, a junior from Hillsboro, Kan., is battling a broken toe right now. Sechrist, who did not travel with the team to Baylor, said she is doing her best to find the positives out of the situation that she is in.
“It was really hard at first. I’m trying to find the bright side. At least I can take time off and focus more on school.”
Sechrist has maintained a 4.0 GPA her entire time here at OBU, and said she takes pride in being as high quality of a student as she is an athlete.
Not only does Sechrist balance being a student and an athlete, but she also has a job, and is the president of the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee on campus.
She said she does her best to take advantage of the little time slots she has and makes a conscious effort to use those times to do the things she needs to do.
Sechrist acknowledged that the transition into full participants in Division II has been a team effort to work into. As an upperclassman this year, she said she hoped to take on a new role this year.
“Since I have been here for two years, and I have been to every meet, I hope I can be an encouragement and share my experiences of what works and what doesn’t work. I want to help and encourage them with the things inside and outside of athletics.”
Sechrist, a national champion in the steeplechase both her freshman and sophomore year, also was a conference champion in the same event. She said that her best accomplishment, though, was being able to achieve this level of success while maintaining a 4.0 GPA.
Another athlete on the OBU track and field team has a history winning that is reminiscent of his coach and fellow athletes. Hayden Ashley, a native of Tulsa, Oklahoma, has made quite the impression on Bison Hill in his two short years here.
Ashley competes in the decathlon, which is a compilation of ten different events. While he was attending Bishop Kelley High School, Ashley was the number one decathlete in the nation.
He hoped to continue that success as he came to OBU to pursue college athletics. As a freshman, Ashley was also an All- American on the track team.
“Coach Mastin has left a prestigious legacy here at OBU. Being able to work under him has been a huge privilege and honor to be able to learn and raise my standards as an athlete,” Ashley said.
Ashley, who was not only a decathlete, but also a multi-sport athlete, being a part of the football team on campus, said that it takes someone who is pretty crazy to compete in a decathlon, with trying to master ten different disciplines for each event.
“95 percent of it is preparing and 5% is actually competing. Decathletes are usually the first ones to show up and the last ones to leave on a daily basis. It takes perseverance, passion, and being a student of the game to be successful. You have to love this sport to be able to do it,” he said.
Ashley said he sees a lot of success in the future of the track and field program
here at OBU. He said that winning a GAC championship would be something that the team, and the program, could hang their hat on, but also could be used as something to propel the team toward the future.
He acknowledged that the competition level has been higher since the team has become full participants in Division II, but said he welcomes the challenge, and said he wants to strive toward the GAC championship.
The Bison men and women’s track team will return home May 11 for the OBU Last Chance Meet.