AZUSA — Westmont men’s and women’s track and field teams had their final tune-up ahead of the GSAC Championships this past weekend when their clubs competed at the Bryan Clay Invitational in Azusa.
In Azusa, five different Warriors earned either an automatic or provisional qualifying time for the NAIA Outdoor National Championships, but the story of the weekend was sophomore sensation Zola Sokhela.
On April 14, Sokhela competed in the men’s 800 meter run, posting a time of 1:48.00. At first glance, the time was noteworthy given Sokhela once again earned an A-Standard qualifying time. In greater context, eyes widened as the Warriors realized Sokhela had broken a Westmont record originally set in 1972.
On June 27, 1972, Rick Tussing set the Warrior record by posting a time of 1:49.34. Nearly 50 years later, on April 14, 2022, Sokhela became the first Warrior to surpass Tussing in program history.
“It was significant for Zola to break that 50-year old record,” said Westmont Head Coach Russell Smelley. “I had to let my good friend (Tussing) know that that record he was very proud of was broken. It was cool; Tussing has been supportive.
“It was quite a run from Zola. Crazy thing is that he has won every 800 he’s run in the United States.”
Sokhela would not stop there. The following day, Sokehla took part in the men’s 1500 meter run. All Sokhela did on that occasion was once again set a Westmont program record, this time by completing the race in 3:42.31. The difference between Sokhela setting the record in the 1500 versus the 800 was that, in this case, Sokhela was breaking his own previous record.
Nearly a year to the day, Sokhela originally broke the 1500 Westmont record on April 17 of last year, also at the Bryan Clay Invitational. When Sokhela originally broke that record, it was the first time he dislodged Tussing’s name for a top spot amongst Warrior leaderboards.
Now, Sokhela holds the three-fastest times in the event in program history. As one might have assumed, Sokhela once again had an A-Standard time in the event.
Also competing in the men’s 1500 was Adam King, who ran the race in 3:53.65. King’s performance earned him a provisional qualifying time for Outdoor Nationals. The final member of the men’s team to a provisional mark in Azusa was Garrett Miller, who ran a B-Standard 31:16.12 in the 10,000 meter run.
“Garrett Miller is the other person I want to mention,” Smelley said. “He ran great and posted a fantastic PR. He ran exceptionally well and very even, so it was quite a performance.”
On the women’s side, Anneline Breytenbach was the lone Warrior to earn a provisional mark, as she ran a 4:40.04 in the 1500.
The Warriors are taking a break before the Golden State Athletic Conference Championships, which will begin April 28 on Westmont’s track in Montecito.
Jacob Norling is the sports information assistant at Westmont College.