APU athletes gain new personal records at the Bryan Clay Invite


Every year, Azusa Pacific is responsible for an event that brings people from all over the nation to Azusa, Calif. to compete in one of the most well known competitions in the country: The Bryan Clay Invitational.

Bryan Ezra Tsumoru Clay is an American decathlete. He was the 2008 Summer Olympic Champion in the decathlon as well as the World Champion in 2005. APU is also Clay’s alma mater and is the reason APU holds this event every year.

There were several defining moments for APU at this event. The men’s and women’s 1600 relay were a major highlight.

The men’s relay team consisted of seniors Richard Finical and Kyle Brown, and sophomores Josh Cantong and Jonathan Davis. They ran a time of 3:14.85.

“I’m happy I was able to go out there and do my part to help my relay mates out as much I could. This years Bryan clay was such a huge success. It was great seeing so many other great schools and athletes come to our home and it was especially great seeing so many of my teammates show out and perform at high levels,” Finical said.

The women’s relay team consisted of four sophomores: Ki’ana Thomas, Olivia Nash, Zoe March and Jaylah Walker, who ran a time of 3:48.53.

“I ran with my heart, digged deep, and left it all on the track and I did the best I could do. No matter the outcome of the race, I believe God always provides,” Thomas said

While the relay teams were pushing themselves to new limits, one athlete has passed a milestone in his track career. Senior Connor Bracken is the star hurdler of APU’s track team. This year at the Bryan Clay invite he beat his personal record in the 400 meter hurdles and ran a time of 52.67, not long after beating his personal record the week before at the Pomona-Pitzer Invite with a 53.20.

“This year has been a huge improvement in my 400 race performance compared to the last couple years. Up until about two weeks ago, I hadn’t PR’ed in the 400 since my freshman year. My freshman year PR was 53.91 and my current PR is 52.67 from my performance at the Bryan Clay Invite,” Bracken said.

Bracken also touched on the challenges he faced to get to this point.

“To me, the biggest challenge in the 400, besides the actual hurdles, is maintaining the proper rhythm and form throughout the full race. As the race progresses and my body starts to go lactic, I have to maintain my focus to get through the final 100 meters of the race because the ability to close at the end of a race is what makes a great performance,” he said.

Bracken has studied his event with every detail and hopes to make it to Nationals this year.

“It has been my goal since my freshman year to go to nationals in the hurdles and represent APU at the outdoor national meet. In order to achieve this goal I have to be within the top 20 in the country,” Bracken said. “I am currently ranked 16th but I know as the weeks draw closer to the entry deadline i will have to continue to perform at my highest level and keep lowering my time because I know there will be great marks from other athletes across the country that bump me down the list if I settle with my current mark.”

APU athletes weren’t the only ones to make the most out of the Bryan Clay Invite. There will be a lot more competition to come but it looks APU’s Track athletes have it under control.

The Cougars will now prepare to compete in the PacWest Conference Championships this coming weekend on Friday, April 27 to Saturday, April 28 in Fresno, Calif.