Gulf Shores, Ala.–Derek Seddon (Sr., Knoxville, Iowa, Physical Education) was the nation’s best discus thrower all year and proved it one final time when it ultimately mattered and his national title guided William Penn at the NAIA Track and Field National Championships Thursday through Saturday.
Seddon became the second Statesmen national champion ever on Friday by topping the field with a throw of 183-0. He won the event by nearly five feet as Elias Micozzi of Bethel (Ind.) was second at 178-1.75.
The senior joins Pat Pilgrim, who won the long jump in 1994, as the only other national champion in program history.
“I do not think there is a finer example of what hard work and dedication can do for an athlete than Derek,” Head Coach Allen Friesen said. “What he has done over the past four years, and to end his collegiate career as a national champion, is simply remarkable. I cannot be more proud or happier for this young man.”
The All-American award is Seddon’s fifth, having placed second in the discus as a junior, fourth in the discus as a sophomore, fifth in the weight throw in March, and seventh in the indoor shot put as a junior.
The national title caps an outdoor campaign in which Seddon won the discus seven times.
Seddon’s week was made even more impressive due to the fact that he also competed in the hammer and shot put. The senior placed 15th in Thursday’s hammer at 173-0.75 and was 16th in Saturday’s shot put at 50-3.
While Seddon headlined the Championships, Cornelius McCastle (Sr., McKinney, Texas, Industrial Technology) was a major player as well, ending his collegiate career with his second All-America honor (also placed seventh in the high jump in 2015).
The senior, who had been out of action for nearly a year with an Achilles heel injury, culminated his triumphant return by taking sixth in the high jump at 6-7.75 on Thursday.
It marks the third time (all since indoor 2015) that WPU has produced multiple All-Americans in a single meet. The All-Americans are the 15th and 16th in program history.
Seddon and McCastle led the navy and gold to 13 points, which helped the squad to a tie for 20th. British Columbia won the team title with 71 points.
The seniors rose to the occasion in their final competitions, but their younger teammates fell a bit short of achieving the same level of success.
Derek Robinson (Jr., Jenks, Okla., Communications) came the closest to adding another All-American to the list as he finished 10th in the discus at 160-6.75.
Tristen Elmore (Fr., Ovied, Fla., Physical Education) entered as a qualifier in the 100 and 200-meter dashes, but was unable to qualify for the finals. The freshman took 24th in Thursday’s 200 in 21.81 seconds and was 29th in Friday’s 100 in 10.76 seconds.
Fellow freshman sprinter Chris Leiba (Olympia, Wash., Business Management) also made his nationals debut in the 100, ending up 37th overall in 10.98 seconds.
Guadalupe Gonzalez (Jr., Houston, Texas, Exercise Science) endured unquestionably the most grueling performance, running Saturday’s 26.2-mile marathon in hot, humid conditions. She crossed the line in 22nd place in 3:40:49.5 (3 hours, 40 minutes, 49.5 seconds).
The men’s 4×100-meter relay team unfortunately had the toughest outing by failing to complete a hand-off in Thursday’s prelims and therefore did not finish the race.
“I think this weekend was a great example of the pride and fight our athletes have exhibited all season,” Friesen said. “Our first day of competition did not go as planned, but we came back Friday and Saturday with pride and determination to get both a National Champion and All-American.”
Story provided by Wade Steinlage