Matador Track & Field Year In Review

July 6, 2009

Sophomore Reindell Cole's 11th-place finish in the men's long jump at the 2009 USA Track & Field National Championships on June 27 concluded yet another tremendously successful season for the Cal State Northridge men's and women's track & field teams.

"I think the entire year was a great success," said Director of Track & Field Don Strametz. "Any time you win conference on both the men's and women's side, that's our primary goal each season."

The Matador women nailed down their fourth consecutive Big West Championship in May when they posted 198 team points over 21 events to easily out-distance second-place Cal Poly by 83.5 points. The 198 team points scored by the Northridge women was the most by a Matador team since totaling 207 points at the 2006 conference meet.

The Northridge men scored 176.50 points to get back on top after a second place finish in 2008. The Matadors have now won four of the last six Big West men's team titles.

"We had a lot of people step up at the conference meet and perform at a level beyond expectations," said Strametz.

The Matadors dominated the conference's postseason awards as Northridge claimed five of the eight postseason awards which were handed out by the conference office.

Strametz added to his impressive list of accolades by being named Big West Men's and Women's Coach of the Year in 2009. He, along with assistant coaches Avery Anderson, Bridget Pearson and Seilala Sua, was instrumental in Northridge winning 13 individual championships at the outdoor championships. In addition, the Matadors posted nine NCAA Regional qualifying marks during the meet.

The pair of coaching honors make 10 Big West Coach of the Year honors for Strametz since Northridge began competing in the conference in 2002.

Junior De'Shawn Waters earned the Men's Track Athlete of the Year and senior Rolando Felizola was named Men's Field Athlete of the Year marking the first time in Big West Conference history that one school has swept both awards. Precious Watkins completed the Matador accolades as she earned Women's Freshman of the Year

Waters, a junior from Hercules, Calif., won 100 and 200 meters in his first season at Northridge. He also ran the second leg of the Matadors' 4x100 relay team that also captured a Big West title in a time of 40.55. Felizola, a two-time runner-up in the triple jump at the Big West Championships (2006, 2007), claimed his first-ever conference championships by winning both the long jump and triple jump. Watkins, a redshirt freshman from Moreno Valley, Calif., placed second in the 100 meters, fourth in the 200 meters and ran the opening leg of the Big West Champion 4x100 relay.

Not to be overshawdowed was the performance of junior Sherrina Lofton. Lofton not only won both the 100 and 200 meters as well as being a part of the conference champion 4x100 relay squad, but she earned the title of top all-around athlete after winning her first Big West heptathlon title.

"I think if you look at the emergence of Sherrina Lofton continuing to improve and have the most unbelievable year that she had both in sprinting and her multi-event talent," said Strametz. "The fact that she scored 34 points at the conference meet, this is someone who has really developed."

Other event winners at the Big West included: Shelese Ruffin (400 meters, long jump), Lilyana Morejon (10,000 meters), women's 4x400 relay (Jackie Harrison, Tara Prier, Jasmine Cox, Ruffin), Derek Cooper (discus) and Lance Gonzales (Javelin).

"I think the turning point of the men's meet was when we were seventh and eighth in the discus going into the fifth round and Cooper, who was throwing with a torn pectoral muscle, came back to win it." said Strametz. "He could just have easily called it a day because of the pain he was in but instead showed the heart of a champion."

Northridge then sent 24 student-athletes to the NCAA West Region Championships at Oregon's historic Hayward Field. Sophomore Reindell Cole highlighted day one after finishing second in the men's long jump. Cole, who came in with the second best long jump mark in the region at 25-9.50 (7.86), jumped 25-8.25 (7.83) on his first jump of the competition to claim second place. Lofton and Waters both earned a trip to the NCAA Outdoor Championships on the final day as Lofton finished fifth while Waters finished in the top-five in both the 100 and 200 meters.

Two weeks later at the NCAA Championships at John McDonnell Field in Fayetteville, Ark., Cole posted the best long jump of the day as he broke his own Northridge record in the event with a leap of 26-11.25 (8.21) in qualifying.

Cole easily posted the best mark of the day among the 27 jumpers in the men's field. After fouling on his first attempt the sophomore from Las Vegas, Nev., jumped 7.74 meters on his second attempt before breaking his school record with the 8.21 meter leap. Cole's previous best and Matador record was 26-9.75 (8.17) which he set as a freshman in 2008.

Also, the women's 4x100 meter relay team of Watkins, Lofton, Dominique Calvin and Ruffin finished fourth in heat four and 11th overall in a season-best time of 44.59. Northridge finished just two spots out of qualifying for the event final.

"This year was the first time we qualified a relay team to Nationals and hopefully next year we can have possibly two or maybe three teams to Nationals," said Strametz. "We were basically a junior and sophomore-laden team this past year so we look forward to next year and hopefully we can be even better that we were this year. The future is bright and we're very excited."

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