Producing their best-ever showing at the national meet in their final year as a member of the NAIA, the Hawks rolled to their second consecutive team crown at the Outdoor Track and Field meet, which concluded in Marion, Ind., on Saturday.
The victory gives Shorter two national championships in the span of four days. The Shorter softball team won the NAIA title on Wednesday.
Saturday’s title-winning performance comes in the midst of Shorter’s final days in the NAIA. The school is beginning its transition to NCAA Division II next year.
The Shorter women finished sixth at Saturday’s meet.
Randy Dameron and Daniel Sorenson coasted to individual titles in the 400 meter dash and 3,000 meter steeplechase, respectively, and Shorter’s 4x100 meter relay team of Allen Huntley, Bradley Moon, Nigel Talton and Kirk Wilson cruised to another national title.
Shorter, a heavy favorite entering this year’s national championship meet, put on the show that had been anticipated, compiling 93 points to finish well ahead of runner-up Azusa Pacific (69 points).
The Hawks racked up a new program-best point total at a national meet on the shoulders of three more national championship performances.
Sorenson set the tone by winning the steeplechase for his first individual national championship.
The junior outdueled teammate Oscar Ogwaro for the title, but just barely. Sorenson ran 8:58.44 to nip Ogwaro, a national champion in his own right after winning the 5,000 meter run at last year’s NAIA Indoor Championships, who crossed the line .09 seconds behind Sorenson in a time of 8:58.53.
The pair also finished 1-2 at the Mid-South Conference Championships in April and scored 18 big points for the Hawks by repeating the feat in Marion.
Shorter’s 4x100 meter relay team was next, edging Azusa Pacific for the national title. Huntley, Moon, Talton and Wilson turned in a time of 39.80 seconds while Azusa Pacific coasted in at 39.90 to place second by a slim margin.
Dameron didn’t need to worry about a close finish. The junior ran 45.95 to best Soka’s Gianni Vernon-Reynolds (46.24) for the individual championship. The championship was the first for Dameron, who entered the national meet as a popular favorite to win the 400.
The Hawks got several strong performances from other team members to piggyback on the three national title efforts.
Ogwaro made it two runner-up outings by finishing second in the 10,000 meter run on Thursday. He posted a time of 30:39.69.
Wilson ran second in the 200 meter dash (20.95) and Shorter’s 4x800 meter relay team of Carlos Perez, Peter Limo, Allen O’Neal and Eliud Ng’etich turned in a second place finish in 7:30.45.
Former Rockmart star Trebor Holmes, the NAIA Indoor high jump national champion, jumped 24 feet, 9.25 inches to place third, then turned around and placed third in the 100 meter hurdles (14.32) to total 12 points for the Hawks.
Shorter’s 93 points came without a contribution from its highly touted 4x400 team, which was disqualified in the preliminaries and did not have a chance to point.
Even with that minor setback, however, the Hawks demonstrated their dominance of men’s track and field on the NAIA level in the team’s final appearance at the NAIA national meet — Shorter is headed for NCAA Division II next year.
The Lady Hawks ended the competition with 42 points, just three points outside of a top five finish, but well behind national champion Oklahoma Baptist, which racked up 101.5 points for the team title. Concordia (Ore.) placed second with 81 points, followed by Azusa Pacific (62), Embry-Riddle (49) and Wayland Baptist (45).
Shorter did not capture an individual national championship this time around — senior Ashlie Stewartson was the reigning long jump champion after winning the 2011 outdoor title – but still posted several high finishes throughout the week.