Junior Karl Winter, a Pepperdine Graphic Staff Writer, zooms toward the finish in the 1500-meter April 17 at Azusa Pacific. He broke the school record yet again this season with a 3:40.58.
Photos Courtesy of Kyle Cajero
Many of Pepperdine Track’s sprinters, mid-distance and distance runners benefited from a weekend full of personal and school records at the Bryan Clay Invitational at Azusa Pacific University April 16-17.
Pepperdine Track stayed competitive in the Friday and Saturday heats, headlined by school records from graduate student Kennedy Kerr and senior Brandon Davis. Junior Karl Winter, a Pepperdine Graphic Staff Writer, continued his record-breaking streak and is now poised for the NCAA Regionals after registering a national top-20 time.
“We had a slew of records across the board,” Winter said. “We did what we knew we were capable of doing, and took advantage of our best opportunity, which was this week.”
On Friday, Davis broke the school record in the men’s 400-meter dash by .68 seconds with a 50.00 second finish and placed fifth in the heat.
Sprinters coach Yannick Allain said he was happy to see Davis’ success so quickly after having to learn the 400.
“He’s currently transferring from mid-distance to sprints,” Allain said. “His body’s had a heck of a spring training with sprints being more taxing on the muscles. He’s getting into shape there. We want him to have a sub-50 second by the end of the season and we think he’ll get that done by the next meet.”
The invitational marked the third meet that Amanda Kurtz has handled the head coaching duties after the termination of Sylvia Mosqueda in March. Allain said both Kurtz and the team showed resilience at the meet.
“This group is so motivated to achieve,” Allain said. “It’s been a turbulent season, from COVID cases to our coaching situation. Amanda and the team has stepped up so much and competing for the past three weeks have sharpened us up.”
Kerr was another standout in the women’s 100 and 200-meter dash. Kerr placed 13th in the 100, running a 11.82, and beat Izzy Connell’s previous school record of 11.86 set in 2017. Kerr also had a 24.39 in the 200.
A graduate transfer from Brown University, Kerr said Pepperdine’s lighter schedule allowed her to fine-tune her running more than the previous four years.
“It was crazy running that time,” Kerr said. “I haven’t run that fast since high school. I would attribute the success to the training regiment. Here, the attitude and training isn’t as rigorous and Coach Yannick’s style has really helped me break out.”
Other top performers on Friday were sophomore mid-distance runner Olivia Miller, who ran a personal best of 2:21.11 in the women’s 800, and senior Preston Gromer, who registered a 15:21.41 in the men’s 5,000.
The big-ticket item for the Saturday races was Winter, who already set the men’s 1,500-meter school record twice this season. After posting a 3:45.80 last week at APU, Winter said he wasn’t satisfied and shaved off over five seconds, registering a 3:40.58.
“I was in a really fast field,” Winter said. “I knew that if I could get dragged along by the field I could have a really fast mark. I was shooting for 3:42 range and would’ve been happy with 3:43. With 300 meters to go I started moving up; I think I went from eighth to about third in the span of 100 meters and tried to hold it. A week ago, I wouldn’t have thought that time was possible.”
Winter has an excellent shot for the NCAA West Regionals in College Station, Texas. To qualify, Winter needs a top-32 regional time in an event, regardless of overall time. With his new personal and school record, Winter is placed 18th nationally and sixth in the region. The event is set for May 27-29.
Kyle McCabe, a junior and Pepperdine Graphic Assistant News Editor, also turned heads on Saturday night. In his first time running the 10,000-meter, he broke the Pepperdine record by over 27 seconds with a 30:24.23 time.
Winter said other runners paced McCabe early on before he locked in and had a strong finish.
“It was a team effort in the first half,” Winter said. “[Senior and Graphic Sports Assistant Editor] Justin Touhey was in there running the first eight laps, trying to pace Kyle at 73 seconds per lap. I came in and ran a mile to bring him to 5K. Our pace was exactly what we wanted, around 15:14, which was super ambitious. He didn’t drop off at all, kept a 73-second pace before the last lap he ran 66 seconds, which was super impressive. We were hyped for him.”
As it stands, this was the last scheduled meet of the 2021 season. Allain said he’s in contact with APU and Santa Clara in attempt to schedule an additional meet.
“Because we don’t know about the next few weeks, we were all super excited with the results of the weekend,” Winter said. “It could’ve been the last race for some of our seniors. We’ve had several good performances the past few weeks but this one was special.”
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