Posted 11 months ago
By John Axtell
A Thursday track meet in California that Chadron State College had entered was cancelled shortly after it began when a bomb threat forced evacuation of the campus of meet host California State-Los Angeles…affecting some 20,000 students as well as the competitors in the track meet. No bomb was found, but the meet was called off.
Chadron State coach Ryan Baily says the women’s hammer throw had been completed, the first flight in the men’s hammer throw was underway, and the women had finished warming up for the pole vault when the bomb threat was received shortly after noon.
“We had to pack up and leave,” Baily said. “They put up barricades and helicopters were flying overhead. We had to walk about two miles, carrying our poles and everything, and cross freeways to meet the bus in an open lot after we’d called the driver to come get us. It was pretty crazy.”
Baily decided to bus 45 Chadron State athletes and his staff to California because of long-range forecasts for bad weather in the Midwest, good weather on the west coast, and the chance to face top competition…all vital for meeting qualifying marks for the NCAA national meet.
Four competitions were lined up during the trip and Baily says the trip has so far lived up to hopes, even with the bomb scare cancelling the Cal State-LA meet.
The 3 Eagles who entered the Wednesday and Thursday multi-event competition at the Mount Sac relays posted strong marks.
Senior Chelsea Murray and sophomore Hunter Dittbenner had personals bests…Murray scoring 4,336 points in the heptathlon and Dittbenner 5,715 in the decathlon. CSC’s Sean Munger also was in the decathlon and finished with 5,397 points.
Murray finished 20th among 24 entries…many of them from Division I schools including the winner… Chari Hawkins of Utah State with 5,441 points…and runner-up Anne Martin of UNL with 5,321.
Dittebenner was 10th among the 14 men in the Class B decathlon…won by Michael McPherson of Division 1 Utah Valley with 6,973 points. Ryan Jenson of the University of North Dakota was the runner-up with 6,713.
As for the events that came before the bomb scare at Cal State-LA, Baily says Alyssa Norton threw the hammer about 144 feet, but he doesn’t know where she placed while A.J. Huffman had a personal best of about 138 feet before the meet was abruptly halted.
CSC has 2 more meets on the trip…the Bryan Clay Invitational at Azusa Pacific University on Friday and the Long Beach University Invitational on Saturday.
Baily says he spent much of Thursday afternoon calling to make sure all his athletes were entered in at least one of those meets. The last numbers he heard were for about 1,400 entries for Friday’s meet and nearly 2,000 for Saturday. “We’re just praying that noting crazy like this happens again,” he says.
CSC had just one outdoor meet before the California trip because of the weather, and won’t have any more before the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference Meet at Colorado School of Mines on May 5-7…in part because the athletes can’t compete during finals week, which is April 29 through May 3.