Baker Hits NAIA Qualifying Mark In Final Attempt
WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - The story that has repeated itself each week for the Goshen College women's track and field team this season has been the outstanding performance of senior Rachael Baker and junior Peni Acayo.
As the Maple Leafs hit the track at the Boilermaker Invitational at Purdue University, the story was the same.
Already this season, Baker had set and broke a new record in the 600 meters. What she hadn't done, though, was find a way for her first career individual qualification to the NAIA National Championships - she did compete as part of a relay team as a freshman.
That is, until now. Baker ran to a third-place finish - behind two Purdue runners - of 3:01.91 in the 1000 meters and hit the automatic qualifying mark in the event. She then came back to run a personal best 11:03.87 for seventh place.
"Rachael had one last meet to qualify and used the opportunity to the fullest with a very determined race in the 1000 meters," said head coach Rick Clark. "It was a very satisfying experience for her."
Meanwhile, the historic season simply continued for Acayo. For the third-straight week, Acayo broke her own triple jump record. This time around she won the event with a mark of 39-feet, 5 3/4", more than six inches further than she leaped last week.
"Acayo is now closing in on the prestigious 40-foot mark in the triple jump," Clark said. "She is currently third in the nation and is getting close to the marks of the top two NAIA competitors."
Acayo also grabbed a runner-up finish in the long jump with a leap of 17' 3/4". Also competing Saturday was Jessica Steil, who posted a 38' 2 3/4" in the weight throw and 27' 11 1/2" in the shot put.
Acayo, Baker, and race walker Tina Peters will head to the NAIA Indoor Championships March 4-6 in Johnson City, Tenn before starting the outdoor season in late March.