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With the 2016 Summer Olympics about to get under way in Rio de Janeiro later this week, Westmont fans will be paying special attention to women’s basketball and track and field and cheering on two particular athletes in their quest for an Olympic medal.
Tugce Canitez, who graduated from Westmont in 2013, will compete in the Olympics for the second time as a member of the Turkish women’s basketball team. Canitez competed at the London Games in 2012, the summer between her junior and senior years at Westmont. After her return from London to Westmont, Canitez helped lead the Warriors to the 2013 NAIA Women’s Basketball National Championship.
Since her graduation, Canitez has played professionally in her home country for Fenerbahce in Istanbul. A perineal contender in the Turkish Women’s Basketball League, Fenerbahce won the 2016 championship.
Turkey has been assigned to Group A at 2016 Olympics along with France, Australia, Japan, Belarus and the home country, Brazil. Pool play begins on Saturday, August 6 and continues through Monday, August 15. The single elimination brackets begin on Tuesday, August 16 with the quarterfinals. The semifinals are scheduled for Thursday, August 18 and the medal games will be played on Saturday, August 20.
Competing in the women’s heptathlon will be Barbara Nwaba, the two-time USA champion in the event. Nwaba is a member of the Santa Barbara Track Club that trains at Westmont and is coached by Joshua Priester, a Westmont assistant track and field coach.
With an opportunity to compete in the 2016 Summer Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro as a prize, the 2016 USA Track and Field Trials begin today in Oregon. Of local interest are several multi-event coaches and athletes with ties to Westmont.
The primary reason for these connections is Santa Barbara Track Club (SBTC) director and coach Josh Priester, who also serves as an assistant coach for Westmont Track and Field. In his role at Westmont, Priester coached Becky Collier to an NAIA Women’s Heptathlon national championship.
Under Preister’s leadership, the SBTC, which trains year round at the Westmont Track, has qualified four athletes for the USA Trials – one in the men’s decathlon and three in the women’s heptathlon.
Heading the list of SBTC athletes is Barbara Nwaba, the 2015 USA Champion in the women’s heptathlon. Nwaba leads the list of qualifiers with a mark of 6,500 points. Also competing in the heptathlon from the SBTC are Lindsay Lettow, the 10th qualifier at 6,023 points and Lindsay Schwarz, the 13th qualifier at 5,998 points.
By Kaci Mexico
May 28, 2016
On the final day of the of the 2016 NAIA Outdoor Track and Field National Championships Kayla Darnbrough finished 13th in the marathon and Becky Collier earned her second All-American honors of the meet when she placed third in high jump.
After two long days competing in the heptathlon, Collier found success in the high jump and placed third with a jump of 1.74m. Collier, who recently finished her junior year, now has earned a total of ten All-American honors in her three-year career on the Westmont Track and Field team.
At 6:00 a.m. this morning, junior Kayla Darnbrough embarked upon her first ever marathon. After 26.2 miles of running, Darnbrough finished 13th in a time of 3:34:50.
“My main goal was to just finish,” said Darnbrough. “I have never done a marathon before so I just wanted to go out there and have fun. I was obviously nervous but a lot of the nerves were also excitement because this was my first time being at nationals and first time running the marathon so I didn’t know what to expect.
By Kaci Mexico
May 27, 2016
On day two of the 2016 NAIA Outdoor Track and Field National Championships, Becky Collier became the fourteenth all-time Westmont Track and Field athlete to win an individual championship when she placed first in the heptathlon; senior Kristan Holding finished her track career on a high note with a sixth place finish in the heptathlon; and senior James Asselin clinched an eighth place finish in the decathlon to end his final season with a bang. Collier, Holding, and Asselin each earned All-American honors for their performances.
Today, Becky Collier not only became a three-time All-American in the outdoor heptathlon, she became a national champion when she finished in first place with 4,908 points.
Yesterday after the first four events of the heptathlon, Collier was in first place with 3,006 points. Today, after competing in long jump, javelin, and the 800 meter race, she maintained her first place standing. In long jump, Collier finished fifth with a mark of 5.15m (16-10.75); in javelin, she finished seventh with a mark of 32.79m (107-7.25); and in the 800 meter race, she finished sixth with a time of 2:23.91.
By Kaci Mexico
May 26, 2016
Day one of the 2016 NAIA Outdoor Track and Field National Championships consisted of five personal records and an All-American honor for the Westmont Men’s and Women’s Track and Field team.
In the heptathlon and decathlon, Becky Collier and James Asselin each earned a personal record – Becky in the 100 meter hurdles, and James in the high jump; and Kristan Holding earned two personal records – one in the 100 meter hurdles and one in shot put. Additionally, Madison Herrera received All-American honors when she placed third in the long jump.
The meet began with the first five events of the decathlon and the first four events of the heptathalon.
Thursday morning the NAIA Outdoor Track and Field National Championships will begin at the Mickey Miller Blackwell Stadium in Gulf Shores, Alabama with 14 Westmont student-athletes competing in 10 events. Three of those athletes will compete in mutli-event competitions – James Asselin in the decathlon and Beck Collier and Kristan Holding in the Heptathlon. The multi-event competitions begin on Thursday morning.
Asselin qualified for the decathlon by posting a score of 6,143 at the Harry Marra Multi-Events held at Westmont May 13 and 14. He holds the 15th best mark in the NAIA this season. The senior last competed in a multi-event at the NAIA Indoor National Championships where an injury kept him from competing on the final day of the heptathlon. Asselin won All-American honors in the decathlon last year with a fourth place finish.
Collier, a junior, claims the best qualifying mark in the NAIA this year, scoring a total of 4,862 points at the Sam Adams Invitational held at Westmont April 1 and 2. Collier is a two-time All-American in the outdoor heptathlon and holds nine All-American titles overall.
Collier will also compete in the women’s high jump on Saturday. In the high jump, Collier is tied with Siena Heights’ (Mich.) Marissa Johnson for the second best qualifying height at 1.75 meters (5-8.75). Collier achieved the mark at both the Westmont Collegiate Classic and The Golden State Athletic Conference Championships. Phoenix Duncan, also of Siena Heights, holds the top qualifying mark at 1.79 meters (5-10.5)
Westmont Men’s Track and Field cruised to a second straight GSAC Championship with a dominating performance on the field. The Warriors won five of the eight field events in addition to the decathlon and the 4 x 800.
The Westmont men tallied 246.5 points, outpacing second place Menlo who tallied 138.25. Vanguard claimed third place with 126.5 and Biola finished fourth with 84.
Westmont Women’s Track and Field narrowly missed repeating as GSAC Championship. Biola finished first with 286 points. The Warriors were just a point and one-half behind with 284.5. Third place went to Vanguard (80.5 points) while William Jessup took fourth (73 points).
Biola came from behind in the final two events to snatch the women’s title from Westmont. Going into the 5,000 meter race, Westmont held a 4.5 point lead. However, Biola’s Stephanie Croy (17:55.05) took second place and led three other Eagles to a top eight-finish, resulting in 18 points for Biola. Westmont scored eight points in the event behind a third place finish by Jessica Meyers (18:05.90) and a seventh place finish by Emily William (18:33.06).
As a result, Biola led by 4.5 points going into the final race, the women’s 4 x 400 meter relay. In order for Westmont to overtake Biola, the Warriors would have needed to finish first and see the Eagles finish no higher than fifth or be disqualified.