While the majority of Azusa Pacific University students were wrapping up the last weekend of spring vacation, seven qualifying APU track and field athletes made their way to Birmingham, Alabama on March 9th-11 to compete in the 2017 NCAA Division II National Track and Field Indoor Championships.

Sophomore Shakiel Chattoo and Sophomore Corey Reid represented APU in the men’s championship heptathlon.

For the past two years, Azusa Pacific’s men have won the title as the men’s heptathlon national champions.

Coming into the finals, Chattoo reigned as the defending champion.

Chattoo entered the meet with the second highest qualifying score of 5,415 points. Coming into the competition, Chattoo said that he had to train himself mentally because he was not 100 percent physically, due to injuries in his knee, hamstring and back.

“I [had] to have that mental status in my head which says, ‘I’m going to go out there and do my best, and only my best is good enough,’” Chattoo said.

On the first day of competition, Chattoo gained a huge lead in the 60-meter with 6.77 seconds, making the run his new personal best. No other opponent even reached a time under seven seconds in the event. Chattoo’s new personal-best is among the 10 fastest in Division II this season.

Chattoo continued scoring high points in the long jump, placing second in the shot put and high jump. In the first day alone, Chattoo’s score put him at 187 points over the second place competitor.

Corey Reid stood in the fourth-highest qualifying spot with 5,329 points coming into Alabama. As the first day concluded, Reid held 11th place with 2,758 points.

Reid was the surprise athlete of the second day. He was able to reach his personal best in the 60-meter hurdles and pole vault, which he described as his best event of the competition. With his additional win in the 1,000 meters he jumped from 11th place to second place runner-up in the men’s heptathlon competition.

“I wasn’t expecting to get second place but I knew I could do it,” Reid said. “I knew that if I performed as I knew I could, I would be able to place in the runner up position [despite the 11th place standings].”

Chattoo scored 5,474 points at the end of the heptathlon, defending his title as champion.

Chattoo’s first place win in the men’s heptathlon indoor competition makes it the third straight year APU has produced a champion.

Azusa Pacific women’s track and field was represented by junior Jacky Chasteler (weight throw), junior Cyinna Booker (long jump and triple jump), junior Eileen Stressling (3,000 and 5,000 meters), freshman Sara Wagenveld (pole vault) and senior Daphne Chambers (pentathlon).

Chambers hit her personal-best record in four of the five events which were the 800-meter, 60-meter hurdle, high jump and shot put. Her score of 3,807 points placed her in fifth in the women’s pentathlon.

Stressling collected her second All-American title, placing fourth in the women’s 5,000 meters and sixth in the 3,000 meters. Booker also earned All-American status, coming in at fifth place in the triple jump.

At the same time the indoor season finished up in Birmingham, Alabama, an outdoor track and field competition was being held in Fullerton, Calif. at the Ben Brown Invitational.

The transition from indoor to outdoor track and field comes with much excitement for Chambers, Reid and men’s head coach Kevin Reid, who believes outdoor competitions highlight their abilities.

“Indoor is fun and it’s fun to compete, but track and field is truly an outdoor sport so the emphasis is definitely on the outdoor season,” Reid said.

Events such as throws, discus, hammer, shot-put and javelin are added into the outdoor season.

“There is more technical work we need to work on with more events we need to master [transitioning outdoors] …it’s going to take a different kind of training, endurance training,” Reid said. “I’m stronger at the outdoor season, so I feel that it should be another good season, and I’m excited for it.”

Chambers also believes she is stronger in the outdoor season as she will add two more events to compete in the heptathlon.

“I’m absolutely excited about outdoor,” Chambers said. “We don’t have to travel as much and I get to spend more time with the team, like Shak and Corey who are two of the chilliest people I know.”

After much success in the indoor season and three All-American honors, the team is ready to take on the outdoors. The Cougars will compete next at the Point Loma Invitational on March 18 in San Diego.