The Abilene Christian University Wildcats men’s track and field roster is loaded for the 2014-15 season, and head coach Keith Barnier says the addition of 18 recruits, including two Saint Lucian junior transfer sprinters, gives ACU one of its deepest rosters in recent years – one which could lift the programme into the top three at the Southland Conference Championships.
The two Saint Lucians are Rosen Daniel and (Jesse) Corneil Lionel, young men both, but very experienced. Between them, they have competed at CARIFTA, age group World Championships, Youth Olympics, Commonwealth Youth, OECS Championships and Commonwealth Games.
At this summer’s Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States Track and Field Championships, Lionel and Daniel helped Saint Lucia to a national record finish of 3:09.45, winning the gold and helping lift the OECS Championship trophy. Next spring, they hope to combine forces with Jonathan Farquharson and Devan Brown to give the Wildcats their first sub-40-second 400-metre relay since 2011.
Daniel, an alumnus of St Mary’s College in Saint Lucia, has arrived at Abilene by way of Coppin State, where he earned MEAC Conference bronze medals in the indoor 200m, 400 and 4x400m relay the past two seasons. He is projected to immediately challenge the Southland Conference in the 400m. Last outdoor season, Daniel was fourth in the conference 200m and 400m with times of 20.97 and 46.38. His 20.97 was an outdoor PR, while his best 400m was clocked at 46.32. The 6’5″ Daniel also made the Coppin State Dean’s List in the fall of 2013 and is currently studying mechanical engineering, theology and visual art at ACU.
Lionel, meanwhile, has come to ACU from Iowa Western. He was a four-time NJCAA all-America at IWCC, and last spring he was sixth in the 200m and seventh in the 100m at the National Junior College Championships. Prior to that, at indoors, he was third in the 60m and fourth in the 200m. His personal bests include a 10.27 in the 100m and 20.93 in the 200m. A two-time Saint Lucia national champion, Lionel is an alumnus of Entrepot Secondary. Standing 5’9″ and hailing from Marisule, he is studying information systems at ACU.
“All of these amazing student-athletes have come here to be the best in the Southland Conference, the nation and in the world,” said second-year head coach Barnier, “and they’ve chose to come here over many Big 12, SEC, Pac 12, Big 10 and ACC institutions because they want to be part of a world-class track program that also provides a Christ-centered education. I’ve seen all of them compete, and I believe they are battle tested and ready to make a significant team contribution to the great tradition of track and field at ACU.”
Last year’s Abilene Christian team finished fourth at the conference outdoor championships with 64 points.