TULSA, Okla. – There are plenty of reasons for optimism around the ORU track & field program right now. The ONEOK Sports Complex is nearing completion, including the University's first ever on-campus track, the return of a number of the top athletes, who redshirted this season in order to finish their careers on said track, and a quality recruiting class 15-people strong and counting have things looking up.
Head Coach Joe Dial is as excited about the state of the program as he's been in a number of years, which is significant for a 24-year veteran who has coached three NCAA National Champions for the Golden Eagles.
"The construction of our new track facility is not even complete yet, but it is already making a positive impact for our program," said Dial. "This has to be the finest overall recruiting class that we've had during my time here at ORU."
Included in the class are JuCo All-Americans, nationally-ranked high school athletes and a pair of sprinters who have won medals in international competition, as well as decedents from former ORU greats. That is not to discount the multiple state champions and school record holders who give the class the top-to-bottom quality for such a large group.
Makayla Linebarger (pole vault) is fourth in the nation while Cameron Neely (sprints) is 11th in the nation in the 400m dash. Emmanuel Mwewa (sprints), who signed during the November period, is an NJCAA Indoor All-American and holds the Zambian national record in the 4x400m relay. Victor Peka (sprints) won the gold medal in the 4x100m relay at the 2016 Africa Junior Athletics Championships and Anie Alphonsus (sprints) from Nigeria won a silver medal in the 100m dash at the 2015 Commonwealth Youth Games.
Mwewa is the nephew of former ORU All-American and Olympian Prince Mumba, while Sasha Wells turned down Ohio State and Purdue to compete at ORU where her parents, Sarah and Renward Wells, also competed.
Here is the full list of track & field athletes who have signed to compete for ORU:
Emmanuel Mwewa | 5-11 | 185 | Sprints | Lusaka, Zambia // Butler Community College
- Placed 23rd at the 2016 NJCAA Outdoor National Championships in the 400 meters and ran to 12th place in the 600 meters at 2015 and 2016 NJCAA Indoor National Championships earning All-America honors
- Won at the Zambian nationals and holds the national record in the 4x400 relay (3:07.43)
- His uncle, Prince Mumba, was an All-American for the Golden Eagles and Olympian for Zambia
- Chose ORU because it's a good school and suits my values as a student-athlete
Christian Patterson | 6-0 | 160 | Pole Vault | Shawnee, Okla. // Shawnee High School
- Broke the Shawnee High School pole vault record jumping 16 feet
- Won the pole vault at the 2016 Oklahoma Track Coaches Association Meet of Champions
- Helped the Wolves to 2015 and 2016 regional track and field titles
- Chose ORU for the huge track program
Victor Peka | 5-11 | 185 | Sprints | Ogidi, Nigeria // University of Nigeria Ilorin
- Won a gold medal in the 4x100 relay at the 2016 Africa Junior Athletics Championships in a time of 39.99 seconds
- Named Best Male Athlete in the senior secondary school category
- Broke the school's 100 meters record in 10.44 seconds (hand timed)
- Chose ORU for its achievements in academics and sports and will enroll in the spring of 2017
Anie Alphonsus | 5-3 | Sprints | Ikot Ekpene, Nigeria // Chuks Comprehensive College
- Picked up a silver medal in the 100 meters at the 2015 Commonwealth Youth Games in Samoa
- Ran to a gold medal in the 4x100 relay, a silver medal in the 100 meters and a bronze in the 200 meters for Team Nigeria at the 2015 African Junior Athletics Championships
- Posted a personal-best time of 11.34 seconds in the 100 meters in 2016
- Chose ORU to carry it to the highest position in sport and aspire to the world class level
Alyssa Solberg | 5-8 | Mid-Distance | Tulsa, Okla. // Lincoln Christian School
- Holds the Oklahoma Class 4A state meet record in the 800 meters (2:14.02)
- Won the 2015 Oklahoma Class 4A State Cross Country Championship and twice finished as runner up (2014, 2016) helping the Bulldogs to a team title as a senior in 2016
- Individual state champion in 800 meters and 4x400 relay at LCS
- Chose ORU for the environment, people, and school that was a great fit
Aliyah Trotter | 5-1 | Sprints | Arlington, Texas // Grace Prep Academy
- A two-time Texas state champion in the 100 meters (2015, 2016) and won another state title in the 200 meters (2016)
- Named all-state twice in her prep career and twice selected as team MVP for the Lions
- Placed second in the 100 meters at the 2016 Texas Amateur Athletic Federation Summer Games
- Chose ORU because it has great academics and is spiritually enriching
Heather Ward | 5-4 | Pole Vault | Owasso, Okla. // Owasso High School
- 2016 Oklahoma All-Classes State Champion in the pole vault
- Owns school record of 11'3" in the pole vault at Owasso High School
- Won the Oklahoma Meet of Champions
- Chose ORU for its atmosphere and coaching
Makayla Linebarger | 5-7 | Pole Vault | Sparks, Nev. // Reed HS
- State runner-up in the pole vault in 2014 and 2016
- Ranks fourth in the nation among high schoolers with a mark of 13-6 in the pole vault
- Holds the 13-14 year old national pole vault record and the Nevada all-time state record
- Also played volleyball in high school as the team's setter
- Also recruited by Arkansas and Colorado State
- Chose ORU because "The academics are outstanding, the track program is awesome and I felt at home when I was on my visit."
- Four-year varsity letterwinner at MBHS
- Chose ORU because "The Christian values that Oral Roberts has will help me develop not only as an athlete but as a whole person."
- Ran a personal best 57.02 in 400m dash at the UIL 6A District Meet
- Expects to major in biology with plans of pursuing a career in parasitology after graduation
- Chose to compete for the Golden Eagles because "ORU has the core values that I was raised with. It is my desire to live out my belief in Christ through sports and my career."
- Also recruited by Louisiana and Texas
- Plans to earn her BSN degree but hopes to serve as a traveling nurse doing mission work after graduation
- Competes for the 3D Elite Track Club
- Originally from Nassau, Bahamas
- Sister of current Golden Eagle sprinter Kishel Stubbs
- Chose ORU because of the Whole Person focus
Sasha Wells | 5-8 | Sprints | Nassau, Bahamas // Home-Schooled
- Daughter of former ORU track stars Sarah and Renward Wells and sister of current Golden Eagle Sethren Wells.
- Chose ORU for the spiritual aspect of the school
- Also recruited by Ohio State, Purdue, UTEP and New Orleans
- Has personal bests of 13.82 (100m hurdles), 11.89 (100m) and 24.56 (200m)
- Competes for Club Monica Athletics under Dianne Woodside
- Competed in 100m hurdles for the IAAF World Youth team
Cameron Neely | 5-11 | Sprints | Desoto, Texas // Desoto HS
- Won a state championship at Desoto High School under Coach Donald Miller
- Ran 47.09 to rank 11th in the nation among high schoolers in the 400m dash
- Also a member of the 4x400m relay team at Desoto that ran 3:11.56
- Mother ran track at North Texas, while father was a basketball player and track athlete
- Also recruited by Louisiana Tech
Freddie Johnson III | 6-0 | Sprints | McKinney, Texas // McKinney Boyd HS
- Four-year varsity athlete under Coach Jeroid Johnson
- Will major in software development at ORU
- Chose ORU because of the "Christian values, the support of the whole person and family-oriented atmosphere, as well as the one-on-one academic support for the student-athletes."
Tinashe Gambe | 5-5 | Distance | Harare, Zimbabwe // Prince Edward HS
- Finished runner-up at the district meet and third at the national meet in the 1,500m run
- Named the best long distance runner and cross country runner of the year in 2015 and 2016
- Chose ORU because he was drawn to the high Christian value
For the latest information on ORU athletics, follow @ORUAthletics on Twitter or go to www.ORUAthletics.com. Fans can also receive updates on the Golden Eagles by downloading the ORU Athletics Front Row App at ORUAthletics.com/frontrow or the ORU Golden Eagles Live App in iTunes or the Google Play Store.
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