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Season Review

2012 Season Highlights:

Gianni Vernon - Reynolds 400m finals 46.24!

Please click here to watch the 400m final video

Senior Gianni Vernon-Reynolds represented the Soka Lions in an amazing way last May at the NAIA Outdoor Track and Field Championships held at Indiana Wesleyan.  After two qualifying rounds, Gianni rounded out his amazing career at SUA with a blazing career-best time in the 400m of 46.24 seconds for a second place finish. Gianni became a 4-time all American and 8-time National Qualifier.  Congratulations Gianni Vernon-Reynolds on your performance and a tremendous four years, you truly have the HEART OF A LION and a HEART OF A CHAMPION! 

The 2012 Track Season was another great one for the Soka Lions! The Lions began their indoor season strong with solid performance at Azusa Pacific University and Northern Arizona University.  Soka produced 3 NAIA National Indoor Qualifiers, including All-American Rachel Daley in the high jump along with Nicholas Spector and Cole Gauthier in the 5000 and 800 respectively.  At the Championships, Rachel became a 2 two time All American and Cole Gautier ran a gutsy racing missing the finals one place. 

The outdoor season was highly successful as well, with many new school records being set and countless PRs attained.  The Lions spanned the state traveling as far north as the San Francisco State to as far south as San Diego State for the Aztec Invitational.  Unfortunately injuries kept the two indoor qualifiers from being able to repeat their appearances outdoors, however, perennial speedster Gianni Vernon-Reynolds was able to round in the great form as the season carried on, peaking at just the right time to run season bests in the qualifying rounds at the Outdoor NAIA National Championships, and then ran a lifetime best in the finals to take home the runner up spot in the 400 meter dash in 46.24 seconds! (see video above)

2011 Season Highlights:


The UCSD Triton Invite, held in La Jolla, CA on April 22-23, was highlighted by Soka junior Gianni Reynolds of Folsom, CA qualifying for the NAIA National Championships.   Gianni qualified by posting a time of 47.69 in the 400 meters. 

The following week at the UCI Scott Invite in Irvine, CA, Gianni Reynolds bested his National Championship qualifying time in the 200 meters, finishing in 21.43 seconds.  Freshman runner Nick Spector of Sonoma, CA, also ran well at the Scott Invite, setting a new school record in the 1500 meters.  He finished with a time of 4:10.  This was the last meet of the season for the seniors, capping off their Soka track careers. 

On May 7th, the SUA track team competed in the Occidental Invite on the campus of Occidental College.  Competitors had to qualify in order to run in this meet, which was for distance runners only.  Sophomore Angie Rosales of Brawley, CA set a new school record in the women’s 5K with a time of 19:12.  Freshman Nick Spector set a new school record in the men’s 5K, finishing in 15:15.  And sophomore Cole Gauthier of Encino, CA set a new school record in the 800 meters, posting a time of 1:55. 

The Last Chance Meet was held at Westmont College on May 14th.  This meet is appropriately named because it is the last opportunity that runners have to qualify for nationals.  Soka only took 6 runners to the meet but they all ran well.  Freshman Rachel Daley of Costa Mesa, CA matched her best performance in the high jump, clearing 5’5, generating some positive momentum heading into nationals.  Freshman Nick Spector qualified for nationals by finishing the 10K in a time of 32:05. 

The NAIA Outdoor Championships will be held at Indiana Weslayan from May 26-29.  Gianni Reynolds, Rachel Daley, and Nick Spector will be competing in the meet. Assistant Track Coach Patrick Boivin on the season: “it’s been a really good season. Everyone did what they needed to do to accomplish what they wanted to . . . because of the all the hard work they put in“ On nationals: “it’s the biggest group of runners we’ve ever had going to nationals.  It’s a group that is not content with just qualifying.  Hopefully they’ll come out and perform well at this meet like they have at the others.”


February 2011 Highlights:

The SUA track and field team competed in the Husky Classic on February 12th at the University of Washington.  The Husky Classic is one of the largest and most prestigious meets in the country.  Due to the high standards for qualification, only 15 runners traveled to this meet.  Despite the reduced squad, SUA was still a strong presence at the meet. 

Freshman Aaron Perry ran well in the men’s 3000 meters against some of the top runners in Division 1.  Junior Gianni Reynolds also ran well, placing 5th overall in the 400 meters, beating out runners from UCLA and Oregon.  He placed second in his heat, beat out only by a NIKE runner.  The strong showing automatically qualified Gianni for the NAIA Indoor Championships next month in Geneva, Ohio. 

The Husky Open took place the next day, February 13th, with 15 SUA runners participating.  Gianni Reynolds continued his strong running, taking 1st place in the 200 meters.  Freshman Elizaveta Kuznetsova ran well in the 60 meter and 200 meter races, showing great promise as a young sprinter. Freshman Rachel Mayes had a great showing, qualifying for the NAIA Indoor National Championships in Geneva, Ohio. And Edwin Flores and James Stucker also ran strong in the 1600 meters.

“Our reduced squad had strong performances across the board.  There were some promising performances for this early in the season.  It’s great start for the team. “ – Coach Freeman.

Gianni Vernon-Reynolds, Soka on the Track: Feb. 2011

As a native of Folsom, California, Gianni Vernon-Reynolds is a current junior from the undergraduate class of 2012.  Gianni recently qualified for the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) Indoor Track and Field National Championships in Geneva, Ohio, in the 200m and 400m.

With Soka University of America's (SUA) tight-knit campus community, it is hard to find anyone who does not know Gianni Vernon-Reynolds. It was not until high school that Gianni would begin to take his ability on the field seriously.  His natural talent was noticed by his coaches who encouraged him to pursue his college career on a track team.  When asked why he chose SUA, despite being recruited by other well-known schools, Gianni shared that the Soka care embodied by the coaches was the selling factor.  He also joked that SUA's beautiful campus was the only campus more breathtaking than the photos he saw in the view book. He shared that the campus was still stunning even though he visited on one of the darkest, gloomy days. 

Upon meeting the different coaches from prospective colleges and universities, he was impressed by the Soka coaches, Gigi Freeman and Karla Bailey, who were very open and honest about being part of an unknown team.  Although many of his friends questioned him for choosing a small, unknown liberal arts college, they also questioned his decision to join a team headed by two female coaches at the time. However, Gianni praised Gigi and Karla's leadership, integrity, success, and exemplary sportsmanship, and was proud to be training under such positive role models.  Since then, SUA has also welcomed Coach Patrick Bolvin to the team with the departure of Coach Bailey.  He emphasized that the team of coaches, who embody Soka education, leave no other option but success.  As for the dynamics of his team, he loves that each student on the team is treated equally like an "all-star" regardless of the results one produces.  Instead, the team values work ethic and effort above all. 

With the care and team spirit inspired through the coaches and his teammates, Gianni has contributed to the foundation for SUA's athletic teams with his great performance nationally.  At the same time, he credits Soka for giving him opportunities, including study abroad, that he would not have gotten anywhere else. 

In closing, Gianni shared to SUA Today that, "Athletics teaches more than performance on the track, field, or court.  Teamwork, dedication, discipline, and perseverance can be applied to all aspects of life."  As for his dream post-Soka, he shared that he has his sights set on the Summer Olympics 2016 in Brazil.



2010 Highlights:

April 2010 Highlights: This year's Soka Peace Invitational set out to provide a showcase the lions could be proud to display in front of their home crowd. With a large group of Soka fans the home team represented the university nicely against UC San Diego, UC Irvine, Vanguard, Long Beach CC, San Francisco State, Santiago Canyon, and Cal State San Marcos.

With great support from their fans and the excitement of racing at home the Lions ran numerous personal records and seasonal bests. In the women's 100 3 women would move up the schools all time list. Ritz Rita, Jessica Lee, and Kimberly NG moved into the 3rd, 5th and 6th spots all time while Riri Nagao tied her personal best.  Jessica and Riri also improved their PR's in the 200 along with Heather Hallahan recording a seasonal best in her race. In the long hurdles (400 meters) Sachiko Kondo improved her PR yet again, finishing if 1:14.56 to improve on her already 3rd fastest time in school history.  Bree Anderson continued her strong start in middle distance racing running 2:36.48 to record the 2nd fastest 800 in school history. In other middle distance action Anri Tanabe found the groove she's been searching for in the 1500 and ran her best time of the season by nearly 10 seconds to run 5:33.08, she'll be eyeing her own school record in the event of 5:27 at the upcoming UCSD Triton Invitational.  Angelica Rosales has been setting a trend this season, and that trend is school record shattering performances... in the 3000 meter she dropped 11 seconds off her own record to run 11:36.36.  The women's 4x400 relay the Lions finished 3rd, just missing the school record set 2 weeks ago.

Not to be outdone by the women the men set out to run equally impressive performances and they didn't disappoint.  In the men's 100 meter dash Kiyoshi "Red" Akasu ran to a huge PR and the 2nd fastest time in school history with an 11.68 clocking, while Cruz Macias and Hitoshi Nishina both ran their way onto the all time lists with 12.5 and 12.7 finishes.  The 200 meter was exciting with Gianni Vernon-Reynolds running away from the field to run a national qualifying 21.41. Red continued his strong improvements with a 23.43 personal best performance and Hitoshi Nishina followed the trend of strong performances with a 25.61 clocking. In the men's 110 meter high hurdles Cruz Macias earned the 2nd fastest time in school history with a 21.41. The men's 800 saw a storm of personal bests including Bernardo Gonzales, Kohei Nozoe, and Shishir Khatiwada in 2:03.91, 2:18.26, and 2:21.43 respectively. Nick Starinieri ran a solid 2:02.99 showing and is right on the edge of breaking through the 2:00 barrier. Cruz Macias ran a respectable 2:15.97 to round out a long day of events preparing for the decathlon. In an event built up in the days before the meet Charlie Kerhin set out to run under 4:30 in the 1500. He would not settle for anything less and finished with a last lap of 67 to run 4:27.75. Mah Takeuchi and Lee Murakami would also dip under their personal bests as they finally got some consistent training after injuries limited their early season training.  The men's 4 x400 relay was a fan favorite as the group of Red, Bernardo, Nick, and Gianni came from behind to catch Long Beach and San Marcos on the final leg finishing in 3:26.57. In the field events, Gianni would jump an outdoor best this season of 6.99 meters to win the long jump with Red just missing his personal best with a jump of 5.59 meters and Cruz establishing a solid decathlon mark of 5.16 meters. Cruz Macias would also set a new best in the Javelin throw of  117 feet, though one of his earlier attempts saw the javelin soar over 130 feet but was a fault, he will look to make up for that in next week's Triton Invitational along with the rest of the lions! 

Mangrum Invite: The 2010 Mangrum Invitational provided another great opportunity for the Lions of Soka to improve their marks on the season and chase the school records. This meet provided many highlights from all the events of track and field. Some of the strong performances included Brianna Anderson's debut in the 800 meter event after specializing in the shorter sprint races previously, she recorded a solid 2:39 and will look to lower her time in the near future as she learns the keys to the event. In the 1500 Angie Rosales, still rounding into shape after shin splints limited the beginning of her season, missed the school record by only 6 seconds with a 5:33 showing... The record is likely to go down in her next attempt.  The womens 4 x 400 relay set a new school record of 4:17.62 with Brianna, Angie, Jessica Lee, and Heather Hallahan.

In the men's events Gianni Vernon-Reynolds continued his successful season setting a school record in the 100 meter dash, winning the event in a National championship qualifying 10.70 clocking. His day also including National Championship qualifying marks in the 200 meter dash and a great anchor leg in the 4 x  400 of 46.8 to help break the previous school record  with Nick Starinieri, Bernardo Gonzales, and Kiyoshi Akasu in a time of 3:29.69. Cruz Macias competed in several events in preparation for the decathlon including the shot put, discus, high jump, and 1500. He lowered his personal best in the 1500 to 4:40 and set a new school record in the high jump of 4'11". Edwin Flores and Nick Starinieri both ran below the previous school record in the 3000 of 10:28 by running 9:40 and 9:55 respectively. Full results can be found at:

March 2010 Highlights On Saturday the 27th of March the Lions of Soka University made the trip down to San Diego to compete at the Point Loma Collegiate Scoring Meet. With a few members of the squad racing at UCLA the same weekend the athletes tried to capitalize on the great weather and good competition Point Loma offered. Competing in events ranging from the javelin to the 5000 meters all the athletes performed well. School records were set by Edwin Flores and Angelica Rosales in the 5000 meter run and by Cruz Macias in the Javelin throw. The results are summarized below...

USC Trojan Invite:   On March 20th 4 representatives from the SUA track and field team participated in a very competitive meet at USC.  Bree Anderson lead off running a solid 400m and teammate Heather Hallahan won her heat by longshot in the 200m.  On the men's side freshman Kiyoshi Akasu powered his way through a very competitive and tight finish in the men's 200m to get third in his heat.  SUA standout Gianni Vernon-Reynolds ran a strong 100m in 10.87s placing ninth place overall.  He dominated the men's 200m  taking first place in a scorching time of 21.52s.  The team will visit Point Loma Nazarene this Saturday as well as making an appearance at the Cal-Nevada meet at UCLA.  

Occidental Distance Carnival: On Friday, March 12th the Middle and Long Distance Runners from Soka University headed North to Los Angeles to compete at the Occidental Distance Carnival. The meet was a shorter format, with only events Ranging from the 800 to the 10,000. The Lions were hoping to get a good early season competition under their belts as new coach Patrick Boivin guided them for the first time.  The meet began with the men's 800 meter race where Soka had strong showings all around. Nick Starinieri was the first Lion in with a nice early season mark of 2:02.98. He'll be looking to break the 2:00 mark in the coming weeks. In the next heat Bernardo Gonzalez and Cruz Macias both ran to solid personal bests of 2:06.49 and 2:13.19. With both athletes still learning to race this distance they are showing great promise for their futures in the event.

The next event was the women's 800 where Sachiko Kondo ran a strong, well paced race to finish in 2:50.71. In the Men's 1500 we had Charlie Kerhin who was looking to follow up his first sub 5:00 mile with an equal performance in the international version of that distance, the 1500. He ran a 4:44.18 personal best in the event that will quickly become his new favorite as it replaces the mile. In the womens 1500 we sent Anri Tanabe, Aileen Mokuria, and Angie Rosales to the line. Angie and Aileen were in the 3rd section of the event and got out to a good start. Angie, who has battled a shin injury all season had to pull off the track after 600 meters, but will be back in the coming weeks as she gets her legs back under her to make an assault on  schools all time performance lists. Aileen ran a solid overall race to finish in 5:46.71, the mark puts her in 7th on the school's All-time list for the event. In the 4th section Anri Tanabe ran solid performance to finish in 5:41.92. She looks ready to challenge her own school record in the even by the end of the season.

February 2010 Highlights: The SUA Lions kicked off their indoor season at the University of Washington Husky Classic Invitational on Saturday, February 13th.  Sophomore Gianni Vernon-Reynolds competed in the Men's 400m placing 6th overall. He beat out competitors from renowned programs such as Stanford, University of Oregon, UC Davis, Cal Berkeley and BYU.  His time of 48.45 automatically qualified him for the NAIA Indoor Nationals this March in Johnson City, TN.  Vernon-Reynolds indoor 400m time is also a new SUA school record!  What an amazing way to start the season!

On February 14th the team competed in the Husky Open Meet.  Vernon-Reynolds dominated the Men's 200m placing him 1st overall. His 60m performance came down to a nail-biting finish after barely clearing the prelims by .001 seconds.  In the finals of the Men's 60m, Vernon-Reynolds bolted from the blocks taking home a second place finish and giving himself another national qualifying time in an event. 

Other highlight performances included a strong showing in the men's mile by sophomore Edwin Flores and freshman Charles Kerhin.  Flores improved upon his former SUA record by 4 seconds while Kerhin broke a personal best time by more than 10 seconds.  Sophomore Cruz Macias increased his SUA record in the 600m with a time of 1:31:35 while sophomore Nick Starinieri lead the 800m for SUA with a time of 2:05.44 followed closely by freshman Bernardo Gonzales.   On the lady Lions side, Freshman Angelica Rosales lead SUA in the mile with a time of 6:00 flat breaking the SUA indoor record in the event while teammate Heather Hallahan (sophomore) made a great showing in the 200m and 400m.

This weekend the team is headed to Azusa Pacific University for the "Last Chance" Qualifier meet. Events begin at 10:00am. Good Luck!!!!

2009 Schedule:

Date Meet Site Results
Feb 11-13 UW Indoor Open / Invitational University of Washington
Feb 20 Azusa Pacific Last Chance Qualifier Azusa Pacific University
March 3-7 NAIA Indoor Championships Johnson City, TN
Mar 12 Oxy Distance Carnival Occidental College
Mar 20 USC Trojan Invitational University of Southern California
Mar 27-28 Cal Nevada Collegiate Championships UC Los Angeles
Mar 27 Point Loma Invitational Point Loma Nazarene
Apr 3 Mangrum Invitational San Marcos, CA
Apr 17 Soka Peace Invitational  Soka University
This is a closed collegiate meet Soka Peace Invite Coach's Info.
Apr 23-24 UCSD Triton Invite UC San Diego
May 12 Occidental Invitational Occidental College
May 26-29 NAIA Outdoor Championships Indiana-Wesleyan

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