Cardinale takes long jump crown on second day of RMAC championships

By Doug Fitzgerald published May 10, 2010

PUEBLO - There was a time, not very long ago, that believing that a University of Colorado at Colorado Springs field athlete could win a conference championship took a leap of faith.

Now, it just takes a leap; a very, very big leap.

Anthony Cardinale flew 7.14 meters to win the men's long jump at the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference Outdoor Track & Field Championships Monday at the Neta and Eddie DeRose ThunderBowl. Cardinale's jump smashed his previous career best of 6.78 meters and missed being a qualifying mark for nationals by a single centimeter.

"He was flying down the runway," said UCCS jumps coach Brandon Masters. "I think that was the difference. All of these guys have a lot of pop off the board, (but) Anthony's a speed guy. His approach was on and we've been working on a couple of landing drills.

"He nailed it. He peaked and nailed it; it was awesome."

Cardinale became the first UCCS long jumper to win a conference championship and also set a new school record in the event.

"It's indescribable; I have no words," said the freshman from Air Academy High School. "I did the things that coach (Masters) told me to do and just competed."

Another big UCCS leap, although not enough to grab another conference title, came from sophomore Steven Gomez, who tied for second in the high jump after clearing 2.04 meters. Gomez has already reserved his ticket to the national championship meet with a jump of 2.15 meters at the CSU-Pueblo Open on April 17.

Brien Hopkins made a spirited charge to move sixth to fourth in the final three events of the decathlon, finishing with 5,523 points. The sophomore from Castle Rock tied for first among decathletes in the pole vault and dominated with a 12.81-second victory in the 1,500-meter run. He nearly overtook rival Jim Hanifan of Colorado School of Mines for second but ended up 86 points shy because of Hanifan's outstanding performance in the three throwing disciplines (shot put, discus and javelin).

Hopkins' teammate, Mitchell Jones, finished ninth in the decathlon with 4,868 points. On the women's side, Ally Watson finished 13th in the Heptathlon with 2,605 points.

Most of Monday's track competition was prelims as athletes vied for spots in Tuesday's finals. There were finals, however, in the 10,000-meter run and the 3,000-meter steeplechase.

UCCS' Mike English ran the men's 10,000 in 35:54.90, good for 15th place. Michael Johnson also competed in the race but dropped out less than halfway through. In the women's 10,000, Tavia Hammond (42:28.25) took 10th and Alicia Del Pardo (45:26.15) was 13th.

The Mountain Lions had two entries in the men's steeplechase. Joel Kienitz was 13th (10:28.08) and Josh Jones was 14th (10:54.31).

Other finals Monday were in the men's and women's discus throw. Preston Williams placed 12th on the men's side with a toss of 37.08 meters in winds that bordered on ridiculous. Jennifer Callan took 14th in the women's competition with a throw of 33.29 meters.

UCCS Players/Staff Featured

Tavia HammondTavia HammondDistance
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Brien HopkinsBrien HopkinsJumps/Multi'sSr
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Mike EnglishMike EnglishDistanceSr.
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Anthony CardinaleAnthony CardinaleJumps/Sprints
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