Grand Canyon University runs one of the elite track & field programs in the country. The Antelopes swept the Western Athletic Conference indoor and outdoor titles last year. Both the men’s and the women’s titles.
And that marked the third straight season the ‘Lopes have pulled off the feat. Right now, they’re ruling the WAC.
But local high school grads who have opted to stay home and compete for the west Phoenix Christian college haven’t been intimidated by the level of competition. In just the last few weeks, a trio of those local athletes proved the point with an assault on the school’s record books.
Trey Johnson didn’t waste any time making his mark on the program. The redshirt freshman from Tolleson Union High School set a new school record in the long jump at last week’s Northern Arizona Mountain T’s invite in Flagstaff. His leap of 7.76 meters also tied him for the 17th-best jump in the nation this season.
Johnson was the state champion in the 100 meters, 110m hurdles, and long jump while competing at Tolleson.
And on the women’s side, Madelyn Lundberg used the same meet to tie the school record in the women’s pole vault. The sophomore from Sandra Day O’Connor High School in northwest Phoenix cleared 4.02 meters on her second try at that height.
That event in Flagstaff has been good to her. Last year she was the runner-up.
Lundberg was the 2017 pole vault state champion while at O’Connor and, during her freshman year at GCU, recorded a third place at the WAC indoor championships and a fourth place at the outdoor championships. This may be her break-out season.
Lundberg and Johnson now hold the top marks in the WAC this season in their respective events.
Rounding out the trio is Andrew Okonkwo, who is wrapping up a final season of eligibility at GCU by duplicating his best effort last year in the high jump, which earned him a place in program history. Four weeks ago, he and fellow senior, Chris Linnin, Jr., tied the school record in the high jump by clearing the bar at 2.05 meters.
For Okonkwo, a senior from Chandler High, it was the second time he hit 2.05m — the last time during his junior season, at a meet at Northern Arizona University.
Linnin, an import from Colorado, went on to establish a new school record in the event with a 2.10-meter jump, a mark he hit at consecutive meets, two weeks ago in New Mexico and last week in Flagstaff. He’s currently in first place in the WAC rankings in the high jump.
The ‘Lopes will split the squad between Washington and New Mexico this weekend, with those in the track & field events heading to the Don Kirby Invitational in Albuquerque and the distance runners competing in the Husky Classic in Seattle.
GCU is showing signs of peaking at the right time. The team holds 10 marks that lead the conference in a range of events heading into the final tune-up before the WAC Indoor Championships Feb. 22-23 in Idaho.
(Photo: NAU Athletics)