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Parker takes second in 200

Sophomore finishes third in 300; women set school record in 400 relay to finish eighth


May 27, 2018

Bill Morgal

Eastern New Mexico sophomore Marcus Parker comes down the stretch in Friday's 200-meter preliminaries at the NCAA Division II meet in Charlotte, N.C. Parker took second in Saturday's finals with a time of 20.54. He was also third in the 100 at 10.34.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Eastern New Mexico track and field athletes had one last good showing on Saturday, to cap off the 2018 NCAA Division II Outdoor Track and Field Championships in Charlotte, and made a little history along the way.

Sprinter Marcus Parker narrowly missed out on national titles in the 100- and 200-meter dashes, with finishes of third and second, respectively. The women's 400 relay, meanwhile, placed in eighth overall to become the first women's relay team in school history to earn First Team All-American honors.

"We had a great day," Greyhound coach Jeff Kavalunas said. "It was exciting for the women's 4-by-100 relay - just a solid race. Marcus had a great day, and the 200 was one of his best races of the year."

The men's team finished in 16th place, with Parker accounting for all 14 points. Four other LSC schools were in the top 15, including national champion Texas A&M-Kingsville with 65 points.

Parker competed in the 100 meter dash in the earlier portion of the day, recording a 10.34-second time to place third overall. Winner Mobolade Ajomale finished at 10.18 seconds, while Pittsburg State's NaRon Rollins came up just shy of the win at 10.22 seconds.

In the 200, in which Parker was both the No. 1 qualifier heading into nationals, as well as the No. 1 qualifier after Friday's prelims, lost out to Ajomale by less than a tenth of a second, as his time of 20.54 seconds was just behind Ajomale's 20.45-second performance.

"In the 100, he had a great race, but he didn't have the best start coming out of the blocks," Kavalunas explained. "He started next to Ajomale, and he kept getting stronger the last 20 meters, but didn't quite have enough for (Ajomale).

"The 200 was a better race for him, and one of his best races of the year. He ran a smart race, but Ajomale ran a great race too."

The 100 and 200 titles were the seventh and eighth career NCAA titles for Ajomale, who ran anchor in the semifinals for Canada's bronze-medal 400 relay team in the 2016 Olympics.

In the 400 relay, the Greyhounds, who snuck into the finals, came home in eighth with a school-record time of 45.74 seconds. The winner, Lincoln, recorded a time of 44.51 seconds, beating out second-place Grand Valley State (44.93) by almost a half-second.

"It was one of our goals for the 4-by-100 to make it to nationals and qualify for the finals, and we did that," Kavalunas said. "They set a personal record in qualifying just to get to the finals, and fortunately, we made another P.R. in the finals. The hand-offs were a little shaky, but there was really good competition and teams ran fast. I'm proud of them."

Overall, Kavalunas said that it was a great weekend for his ENMU athletes. The 2018 track season is now in the books, as well as Kavalunas' first season as coach at Eastern.

Both the indoor and outdoor seasons netted plenty of positive results, including numerous accolades at both the Lone Star Conference and national levels.

"I was really pleased with this year. It was one of our goals for the athletes to be healthy and be consistent in their practices and times, and they did that," Kavalunas explained.

"I'm just real excited about finishing my first year strong, and we can do bigger and better things next year, now that some of them have this nationals experience. I also want to give a big thanks to (assistant) coach Aaron Gordon, who did an outstanding job working with Marcus and KJ (Kenneth Lloyd, 10th in high jump Friday). It was also his first year here, and I'm real proud of the great job he did for us."


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