Bison and Lady Bison track excel at Wichita State and Fayetteville

By Michael Stewart, Assistant Sports Editor

The Oklahoma Baptist men’s and women’s track and field teams competed in a pair of meets that took place Friday, March 12.

Part of the OBU team traveled to Wichita State University to participate in the KT Woodman Classic, while another group traveled to the University of Arkansas to compete in the John McDonnell Invitational.

“We were really looking forward to competing this weekend,” junior JoziRose Mayfield said. “Our team has been working very hard to prepare for big meets like these.”

In Fayetteville, the playing field was very competitive.

Many athletes from both Division II and Division I programs made for challenging competition.

“We were only worried about ourselves,” Mayfi eld said. “We were ready for the challenge and knew we had what it takes to make some noise.”

In the women’s track events, Mayfield and senior Leah Molter finished second and third in the women’s 400 hurdles with times of 1:01.57 and 1:01.95.

Molter finished fourth in women’s 100 hurdles.

In the women’s 400, sophomore Cameka Witter placed sixth with a time of 54.13.

Witter placed just ahead of senior teammate McKae Mitchell who finished seventh at 54.37.

Junior Tessa Potter finished seventh in the women’s 800 with a time of 2:14.05.

In the women’s field events, sophomore Julianna Horner finished fourth in the women’s shot put with a throw of 12.94m.

Sophomore Evelyn Carswell finished third in the women’s high jump with a mark of 1.63m.

“We gave everything we had in the competition,” junior Raigan Servati said. “I am proud of the effort that we gave.”

In the men’s track events, OBU’s freshman Noah Eskew finished third in the men’s 3000 with a time of 8:43.20.

Junior Brandon Crowley finished fourth in men’s 110 hurdles with a time of 14.40.

Freshman Eric Vander Walt, senior Andrew Worley and junior Cayden Spain finished in the sixth through eighth spots.

Lastly, freshman Logan Huslig came in fifth in the men’s 400 hurdles with a time of 54.90.

“The guys and girls both brought their best efforts,” junior Hayden Ashley said. “Nobody is better prepared than our team, and I am really thankful for all of our tough preparation.”

In the men’s field events, sophomore Nathaniel Worley won the men’s high jump com-petition with a best of 1.96m.

Ashley won the men’s javelin with a throw of 51.35m, finished second in the men’s long jump at 6.88m and finished tied for fourth in the pole vault with a distance of 4.50m.

“I felt really good heading into the weekend,” Ashley said. “Just wanted to come out and give my best effort and help my team as I could.”

Another group of OBU Bison athletes competed simultaneously in Wichita, KS. In the women’s track events, freshman Berkley Price was second in the women’s steeple-chase with a time of 11:42.07.

Sophomore Allison Derry finished third in the women’s 1500 at 4:43.54. Lastly, graduate student Kaylee Crowson came in third in the women’s 5000 with a time of 17:20.05.

“Our team has continued to get better every week and with every practice,” Servati said. “I really am excited to see how far we are able to go and see what all that we can accomplish together.”

One of the biggest parts of the OBU track and field team is the family mentality.

“This is one big family that loves to support one another,” Mayfield said. “We are all truly wishing the best for one another and encouraging everyone to do their best.”

Next up, OBU will host the 2019 Great American Conference Outdoor Championships beginning April 18 at the Eddie Hurt Jr. Memorial Track Complex in Shawnee, OK

Bison and Lady Bison shine at track indoor GAC Championships

By Michael Stewart, Assistant Sports Editor

The Oklahoma Baptist indoor track teams wrapped up the 2019 indoor regular season in style as they swept the top awards in the 2019 Great American Conference Indoor Championships.  

OBU served as host of the two-day meet that began Friday, Feb. 22 at Mosier Center on the campus of the University of Oklahoma in Norman.

The Lady Bison and Bison joined six other GAC teams in the event, including Arkansas Tech, East Central, Harding, Northwestern Oklahoma and Southern Nazarene.  

Other non-conference teams competing were West Texas A&M, Rogers State, Oklahoma Christian, Azusa Pacific, Le Tourneau, and Laverne.  

“We were really excited to compete,” junior JoziRose Mayfield said. “Heading into the meet, we knew we were going to have to come ready to compete.”  

In the meet, the OBU women nearly doubled the points of second-place Harding. OBU finished with 234 points while Harding managed 125.  

“The team really showed up in a big way,” Mayfield said. “This team is really special. Everyone shows support for one another and it really helps everyone perform their best.”  

When the Lady Bison are performing their best, they are tough to beat. Kaylee Crowson earned the title of top female athlete at the event winning the 5000 meters and finishing second in both the one mile and 3000 meters.  

“Kaylee (Crowson) made us all really proud,” Mayfield said. “The way she always competes is very contagious throughout the team.” 

There were plenty of bright spotlights for the Lady Bison, with Cameka Witter and Mckae Mitchell finishing first and second in the 400-meter dash. 

Four more Lady Bison finished in the top 10. Sher Van Der Westhuizen, Candis Rodgers, Beyel Tubbs and Mayfield were in the top 10. Tesa Potter finished first in the 800-meter dash. Brooklynn James finished sixth.

The 4×400 meter relay and distance medley went to the Lady Bison for first.

Peyton Worley got first in the pole vault. Isabella Lotz won the long jump.      

The Bison also cruised to a victory in the meet.

The OBU men scored 278 points more than the second through fifth place finishing teams combined.

Oklahoma Christian finished second with 80 points, which was 200 points behind OBU.  

“Everyone was very focused,” senior Nathan Crowson said. “When we are competing at our best, we are a hard team to beat, and we showed that.” 

The men also claimed top male athlete of the competition. Heptathlon athlete, Hayden Ashley, earned the honor after he won five of the ten competitions and had two other second-place finishes.  

“Hayden (Ashley) is such a competitor,” Crowson said. “He lives for big moments and always steps up to the plate.”  

For the Bison, Mahcoe Smith won the 60-meter dash. The 400-meter dash went to Shirvante Knauls with Sayvon Milton right behind him.

Logan Huslig won the 800-meter dash.

The 4×10 and the distance medley went to the Bison for first as well.

For the high jump, Nathan Worley, Hayden Ashley and Andrew Worley went for first, second and third.

Spencer Lashley finished first in the pole vault and Saleem Fadel finished first in shot put and weight throw.  

This was the first ever Great American Conference Indoor Track and Field Championships, and OBU made easy work of its competition.

The GAC event served as the last opportunity for OBU to add to its growing and lengthy list of NCAA meet qualifiers at next month’s meet in Pittsburg, Kansas. 

The OBU track teams will stay here for Mar. 14 and for Mar. 28 and 29 for the OBU Invitational on Bison Hill.

 

OBU Track and Field running the good race

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.

Opportunity lies behind every closed door

By Nick Dingus, Sports Editor

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Every day as the morning sun rises over Raley chapel in Shawnee, Oklahoma, Saleh Saleem Fadel and his wife Hanan Ismaiel Abou-Shaweesh are just finishing their lunch in Dawhat Al Qatar, a suburb of Al Doha, the capital city of Qatar. 7,750 miles away back in Shawnee, their son Saleem Saleh Fadel is just starting his day at Oklahoma Baptist University.

Saleem is a sophomore sports management major at OBU. In addition to his studies, Saleem is a member of the OBU track and field team, competing in the shot put and hammer throw.

Saleem’s parents, both Palestinian refugees, grew up in neighboring countries, his mother in Egypt and his father in Syria. The two met as young adults while working in Qatar, and later built their life in the small gulf country.

From a young age, Saleem’s father knew his son would be a great athlete.

“I noticed it when Saleem was young, so I encouraged him to exercise and work hard. I would take him to wide places to practice his favorite sport,” Saleh said.

When he was young, Saleem’s favorite sport was soccer.

“I played goalkeeper, but I played too aggressive; after I broke my little finger, he was worried about me getting injured again. He encouraged me to leave soccer, and find a less dangerous, individual sport.”

Saleh took Saleem to a sporting club near their home, where he knew a coach. Even at a young age, Saleem was bigger and stronger than the other kids at the sports club.

“My father took me to a small club where he knew the track and field coach, and the coach put me through some athletic tests. He had me throw something… a medicine ball I think. Because I was so big for my age, I threw it further than the other kids my age and the coach said, ‘wow, I must have you on my team,’” Saleem said.

Saleem continued to grow and continued to train. He was eventually accepted into one of the premier athletic secondary schools in the world, Aspire Academy.

Aspire Academy’s mission is to “develop well-educated sports champions. We foster Qatar society realizing a healthy, active lifestyle,” according to their website. Qatar’s national football (soccer) team is made up solely of past and present Aspire student athletes.

It was during his time at Aspire that Saleem first had the ability to compete on the international level.

“I have competed it not only the Gulf States youth championships, as well as in the Asian youth championships. In 2013, I won a bronze medal at the U18 World Track and Field Championships in Brazil for hammer throw.”

While already an accomplished athlete in Qatar, Saleem desired to take his athletic career further. He knew that his best chance to continue growing as an athlete was in the United States.

“I began looking at universities online, and collect-ing the email addresses of different track and field coaches. My sister helped me write a professional email to each of them, telling them who I was and what I wanted to do. I got many responses from all of the United States,” Saleem said.

Saleem had offers from schools in New Jersey all the way to California and Texas. However, the one that stood out to him was in Oklahoma.

“One of the universities that was interested in me was Oklahoma City University. I didn’t know where Oklahoma was, but I chose OCU. This was my first time in America. I traveled to Oklahoma City with my father and my sister. However, there was some miscommunication with the school. They were not able to offer me a full scholarship; they could only offer me a partial scholarship. This meant that I could not afford to go there, so I asked the OCU coach for help.”

From there, Coach Matt Aguero pointed Saleem east to OBU, Saleem and his father visited that same week. Longtime OBU coach Ford Mastin was impressed by Saleem’s athletic ability and offered him a scholarship for track and field. When Saleem stepped for on campus, he became one of only a handful of Muslims on OBU’s campus. While many Christian parents would have serious reservations about sending their child off to a Muslim university, Saleem’s father, a devout Muslim had the opposite reaction.

“I had no problem with the university being Christian; all the people there have provided support and help to my son, so I don’t have to worried about him. The fact is that our religion encourages and motivates us to learn about other religions and I’m really thankful for everyone there,” Saleh said.

Even though it is tough for any parent to send their away child to school, Saleem’s parents know that there are great opportunities waiting for their son in the United States.

“His mother was worried a little bit about him because she is a mother. I explained to her that there’s a bright future waiting for our son to be able to study and play sports in the USA. Saleem is a polite and a good boy. I expect him to continue to excel in sports and in his academic life, and in the future he will exceed all expectations,” Saleh said.

Saleem will be competing in his first season for OBU after taking a redshirt season last year. Based on results from last years NCAA Track and Field championship results, Saleem may be one of the best hammer throwers in division II. Saleem also hopes to qualify for the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo.

“I think that with Coach Mastin and Coach Kron, I will be able to qualify for the next Olympics. For me it is not so much about winning; I want to have that experience of being there. I want to look back in fifty or sixty years and say, ‘I was there in 2020; I was an Olympian.’