Westmont Track and Field Greats

PAUL HERMAN (1960-62)

Paul Herman was the best in a long line of great decathletes to wear the Westmont uniform. He finished 11th in the 1960 Olympic trials after his freshman year at Westmont. He won the National AAU decathlon title in 1961 and competed internationally in Moscow, Stuttgart, Warsaw and London. In 1962, Herman established the school record of 7,700 points. After college, Herman made the 1964 Olympic team and placed fourth in the Tokyo Olympics with 7,787 points, just 22 points away from a bronze medal.

JIM KLEIN (1960-76)

A stellar collegiate and post-collegiate decathlete in the 1950’s, coach Jim Klein’s arrival at Westmont signaled the start of a national level program in cross country and track and field.  Westmont school records and top-ten performance lists are replete with the athletes he coached.  Under his leadership, the Warriors defeated perennial District III powerhouse Occidental College and recorded dual meet victories against UC Santa Barbara.  His programs produced third and fourth place cross country finishes at nationals as well as Olympic competitors.  Literally and figuratively, Klein built both the track and the programs with his own two hands.  Klein completed his coaching career at Boise State after leaving Westmont.


Dave Thoreson is an All-American high jumper and a multi-event talent.  Well known for his antics and creative games.  If he couldn’t win at one game he’d invent a new one.  Thoreson ranks fourth all-time in the decathlon with 6,824 points.  On the top-ten list for the high jump, long jump and triple jump, Thoreson is a retired junior high school teacher. 

DOUG WIEBE (1962-65)

Doug Wiebe was the first successful distance runner at Westmont in a time when few people raced distances.  He held the school record in the two mile (9:11.1) and the three mile (14:08) and was the record holder in the mile at the time of his graduation.  Despite his medical school studies after Westmont, Wiebe used his Westmont experiences to become a national class AAU marathoner, competing in the 1960 Olympic trials (2:23.24)


George Pannel ran 53.3 in the intermediate hurdles and scored 6,667 points in his first decathlon at the 1968 Olympic trials.  He was an all time performer in the 400 meters as well.  In 1969, Pannel finished second in the NAIA decathlon with 7,159 points and followed that with a sixth place finish in the AAU decathlon with 6,831 points.  Pannel owns a construction company in San Diego County.


Dennis Savage remains the greatest middle distance runner in Westmont history. He claimed one indoor and two outdoor NAIA titles in the mile run, and added the NCAA College Division championship in 1970. He holds the school record with a mile time of 4:00.7. He is a member of the Westmont Athletic Hall of Fame, the NAIA Cross Country Hall of Fame, and the Santa Barbara Athletic Round Table Hall of Fame.  A nine time All-American, three of which were in cross country, Savage is retired from teaching biology in Santa Barbara.


A two-time NAIA All-American in the hammer throw (1970, 1971), Dan “The Hulk” Bryant was a triple threat in the hammer, shot put and discus.  At the time of his graduation, he held the school record for all three events.  He still holds Westmont’s record in the hammer throw (164’ 1”).  He won all three events at the District III meet in 1970 and captained the 1971 NAIA District III championship team.

RON COLEMAN (1969-72)

An NAIA All-American high jumper in 1971 Ron Coleman earned NCAA College Division All-American honors in 1972.  He is the Westmont record holder in the high jump with a mark of 6’ 11” using the old style western roll.  The three-time NAIA District III high jump champion placed fourth at nationals in his senior season.  Coleman also competed in the triple jump in which he produced a career best 46’ 9.5”.

RICK TUSSING (1970-73)

Rick Tussing is the best middle distance runner in Westmont history to not be rewarded with All-American status.  He holds the school record in the 800 (1:49.34) and the 1500 (3:45.54).  The 800 record was set at a meet in Nigeria against a Biola rival.  Tussing competed at NAIA nationals when only the top three finishers were named All-American.  He finished sixth in the 800 and fifth in the 1500 his junior year.

BILL BAKLEY (1971-72)

A four-time All-American decathlete (1971, 1972), Bill Bakley transferred to Westmont from Phoenix Junior College.  In 1971, Bakley competed in three national decathlon championships on three consecutive weekends and earned All-American honors in each champsionhsip.  In 1971 he placed second in the NAIA championship, first in the NCAA college division championship and third at the NCAA university division championship.  One year later, he defeated Bruce Jenner, the 1976 Olympic champion, at the NAIA national championship.  Bakley was a philosophy major who put himself through college while making a tremendous impact on the Westmont performance lists.  He holds the second best mark in the decathlon (7,656 points) and the long jump (24’ 3”).  While a Warrior, he also posted marks of 14’ 2.25” in the pole vault and 53.6 in the 400 meter hurdles.  Bakley currently teaches and coaches in high school in Arizona.


A native of Madagascar, Ravelomanantsoa won national and international recognition in the late 60’s and early 70’s. He established personal bests of 9.3 in the 100 yards, 10.0 in the 100 meters, and 20.6 in the 200 meters. He captured NAIA titles in the 60 yards (indoors 1971, 1972) and in the 100 meters (outdoors 1972). He was a finalist in the 100 meter in the 1968 Olympic Games in Mexico City, and again in the 1972 Munich Games. At the end of the 1971 season, he was named the number two sprinter in the world by Track and Field News.

STEVE HUGHES (1971-75, 1976-78)

After vaulting 15’ 2.25” his sophomore season, Steve Hughes earned NAIA All-American in the pole vault in 1974 when he vaulted 15’ 9”.  In his senior season, Hughes won the the NCAA college division pole vault with a mark of 15’ 10” when Westmont was a dual member of the NAIA and NCAA.  Hughes was Westmont’s head coach for cross country and track and field from 1976-78, leading the Warriors in 1977 to a 10th place NCAA college division finish.

JIM HOWARD (1975-76)

Jim Howard transferred to Westmont from Stanford and re-wrote the Warrior record books in the shot put and discus. In 1976 he pulled off an incredible double-double. Howard won both the shot put and discus titles at the NAIA national meet, then repeated his performance a week later at the NCAA college division championships. He holds the Westmont records of 58-9 1/2 in the shot and 192-0 in the discus.

PAUL BROWN (1976-77)

Paul Brown was a four time NAIA All-American – twice in the 100 meters (1976, 1977) and twice in the 200 meters (1976, 1977).  He was also NCAA college division champion in the 100 meters, winning in a meet record 10.32 seconds.  Brown was part of a dynamic sprint group during his two years at Westmont which he led by winning performances and gentlemanly deportment.

PHIL PITNEY (1983-86)

Phil Pitney became the first NAIA All-American for Coach Russell Smelley when he placed fifth in the 400 hurdles in 1986. He captured the NAIA District title earlier that season in a school-record time of 51.73. Pitney also set the Westmont record in the 400 with a time of 48.19.  A strong leader as team captain his junior and senior years, the economics/business major became a commercial real estate developer.

JIM MATTSON (1984-89)

A leader of the NAIA District III and GSAC champion cross country teams in 1986 and 1987, Jim Mattson competed at nationals in three years and finished 35th in his senior season.  The two-time NAIA All-American in the indoor mile (1988, 1989). Mattson won the individual cross country title at the Westmont-UCSB dual meet during his senior year. Mattson was also GSAC Champion in the 4 X 800 (1987),  the 3,000 meter steeplechase (1988 – meet record) and two-time champion in the 1500 meters. Possessing Westmont’s second fastest time in the 1500 meters (3:48.47), Mattson was part of the record setting team in the 4 X 800 at the Mt. SAC Relays. Mattson went on from Westmont to earn a master’s in mathematics from Colorado State


Stacia Larsen became the first women’s NAIA All-American for Westmont’s cross country program when she placed 20th her freshman season. Larsen earned her second cross country All-American title in her senior year.  She placed fifth in the mile at the 1989 NAIA Indoor Championships and took second in the same event a year later. When she graduated, Larsen held school records in the 800, 1500, mile, 3000 and 5000. She still holds the 5000 record (17:25.25).  Larsen is a mother of two and works as a training consultant.  She was inducted into the Westmont Athletic Hall of Fame in the fall of 2005.

MISTY ALLEN (1992-94)

In her two years of track competition, Misty Allen established herself as one of the most versatile distance runners in Westmont history. She ranks in the top five all-time in every event from the 800 to marathon, including school records in the 1500 (4:35.73), 10,000 (36:19.67) and marathon (2:55:57). Allen ran to NAIA All-American honors in the 5,000 in 1993, and both the 5,000 and 10,000 in 1994. Allen was also a member of two Distict III and GSAC Championship cross country teams.

MATT NEALON (1992-96)

Matt Nealon earned two NAIA All-American awards in track and added two more in cross country.  He is credited with having led the cross country program back to national level performances.  Nealon placed in the 1500 at the 1993 NAIA championships as a freshman, and then again in the 1000 at the 1994 indoor championships. Nealon ranks seventh all-time at Westmont in the 800 (1:51.87) and fifth in the 1500 (3:50.42).  After graduation, he earned a degree in dentistry.


A humble champion and highly respected team leader, Miriam Niednagel was a ten-time NAIA All-American.   Four times, she led the Warriors to the cross country national championships where they finished in third her senior season.  In addition to four All-American titles in cross country,  Niednagel earned the same honor six times in track events: twice in the distance medley (1996-97), and once each in the indoor two-mile relay (1994), 3,000 meter indoor (1995), 3,000 meter outdoor (1995), and the indoor mile (1996).  A two-time GSAC cross country champion, Niednagel is a teacher and the wife of a pastor.


Heather McDowell was a walk-on athlete.  She had not competed for almost two years but wanted to be a part of the cross country team.  She continually improved and was Westmont’s number seven runner her first year at nationals.  Her next season, she emerged late in the season and won the GSAC individual title while leading her team to the championship.  At NAIA nationals, she earned ALL-American status with a 28th place finish in a time of 18:32, a minute faster than the year before on the same course.


A six-time NAIA All-American, Annaka Gustafson was a stellar cross country performer who helped the Warriors to as high as third place at nationals. Three of her All-American certificates came in cross country in which she had a best finish of 11th in 1998 in eight inches of snow.  She also earned All-American honors in the distance medley relay (1996, 1997), and the 4 X 800 relay (1999).  Gustafson was a member of four Westmont record holding relay teams:  4 X 400, 4 X 800, 4 X 1600, and distance medley relay.  A registered nurse, Gustafson earned a master’s degree after graduating from Westmont.


A leader of the ascendency of cross country to national performance levels, Michelle Lubinsky participated on four squads which qualified as teams for the national championship where her best finish was 45th.  Lubinsky is a two-time NAIA All-American earning the honors in the indoor mile (1991) and the 3,000 meters (1991).  She was also a GSAC Champion in the distance medley relay (1988) and is the Westmont record holder in the 3,000 meters (10:01.15).  Lubinsky went on to earn a doctorate in mathematics from the University of Maryland.


With eight NAIA All-American honors, Rebekah Reynolds won more All-American awards in individual events that any other Warrior athlete. She came out for the team as a walk-on, and proceeded to place fifth in her first national competition, the 1998 NAIA Indoor Championships. She was national runner-up in the shot put at both the 2001 indoor and outdoor championships. Reynolds, who now serves as an elementary school teacher, holds the school record in the shot put with a mark of 47-2 1/4 and in the hammer at 132-4. She also ranks second in the javelin (138-11).


As a freshman, Christa Fitzgerald had a dynamic two-event All-American performance in the mile (second place) and the 800 meters (fifth place) at the NAIA Indoor National Championship.  The two events were conducted within an hour of each other.  Fitzgerald also collected All-American honors in the indoor 4 X 800 relay and the distance medley relay.  As a cross country runner, she was a four-time team qualifier at nationals while earning four All-GSAC awards.

ALLISON KNODE (1999-2002)

Allison Knode re-wrote the pole vault record books during her four-year career at Westmont. She earned at least one All-American award in each of her four years, and she culminated her career by capturing the 2002 NAIA outdoor national championship with a school-record vault of 11-11 3/4. In addition, Knode earned two NAIA Scholar-Athlete awards.  She earned her doctorate in physical therapy from Chapman University.


A talented group of relay runners, Tim Meador, Mike Lemon, Matt Torres, Joe Stevick and Max Gonzales teamed up to dominate relay events.  Meador and Lemon were six-time NAIA All-American: 4 X 800 indoor (2001, 2002), 4 x 800 outdoor (2000, 2001), distance medley relay (2001, 2002). In 2002 they were national champions in the distance medley relay.  Torres earned NAIA All-American honors on five occasions: 4 X 800 indoor (2001), 4 x 800 outdoor (2000, 2001), distance medley relay (2001), indoor 600 meters.  Stevick was a three time NAIA All-American: 4 X 800 indoor (2001, 2002), 4 x 800 outdoor (2001).  Gonzales earned All-American honors on the 2002 national champion distance medley relay team.

JASON FINCH (2001-03)

After anchoring a second place finish by Westmont at nationals in the distance medley relay in 2001, Jason Finch ran the anchor leg for the 2002 national championship team.  He was also national champion in the indoor mile in 2003.  He also earned All-American honors in the 3,000 meter steeplechase (2001, 2003), 1,500 meters (2002) and 4 X 800 relay (2001, 2002).  His GSAC championships include the 4 X 800 relay (2001), 1,500 meters (2002, 2003), and the 3,000 meter steeplechase (2003). Twice, Finch was the 1500 meter champion at the California/Nevada Championship meet.

AMBER NIXON (2001-03)

Amber Nixon established a new school high jump record early in her career and went on to earn six NAIA All-American awards in just three seasons of competition. Nixon became the first female at Westmont to win a national title in track and field when she won the indoor championship in 2002. She added the outdoor title that same year and then completed her career with another outdoor title in 2003 with a school-record jump of 5′ 9 1/4".  Nixon currently teaches elementary school.

SARAH EYMAN (2001-04)

Sarah Eyman is a five-time NAIA All-American, earning the distinction in the distance medley relay (2001), indoor mile (2002, 2003), 3,000 meters (2002), and 1,000 meter indoors (2004).  She was a cross country front running leader with a best finish of 34th at nationals her junior year.  Eyman was a determined competitor who battled chronic back pain for her final two years and was still able to earn two All-American certificates.  She is currently teaching English in China.


A 12-time NAIA All-American, Elisa (Hodges) Mitchell was a two time NAIA Indoor National Champion in the women’s 600 meters (2014 and 2015). In addition she garnered All-American records in the indoor 600 meters (2013), the indoor 400 meters (2012), the outdoor 400 meters (2013, 2014, 2015), the outdoor 400 meter hurdles (2012) and the indoor 4 x 400 meter relay (2015), the outdoor 4 x 400 meter relay (2013, 2015) and the indoor distance medley relay (2014). By the end of her senior year, Mitchell was (and remains) the school record holder in the 60 meters, 200 meters, 400 meters, 400 meter hurdles, 4 x 100 meter relay, 4 x 200 meter relay, sprint medley relay and the distance medley relay.