No. 1 – Men’s Track and Field Wins The 1999 NAIA Indoor National Championship, The First In CBU History
There have been countless memorable and incredible moments in California Baptist University history. We’ve spent the past two weeks looking at some of the best.
However, there is arguably no more fitting moment that stands above the rest than the seminal moment in California Baptist University athletics—its first-ever national championship.
The sporting world is littered with all sorts of stories chronicling a team or individual overcoming countless obstacles, mile-high mountains and dire circumstances to finish at the top of their respective stage. And in 1999, CBU added its chapter to that book—the men’s indoor track and field team.
With no home track and a soccer field for practice, just a sand pit on an undeveloped piece of property for the jumpers to work with and only seven scoring competitors, the Lancers indeed overcame a plethora of obstacles to claim the 1999 NAIA Indoor Track and Field National Championship—the first-ever national championship in California Baptist University history.
It took the Lancers 30 years and 22 national championship appearances to claim their first national title, and its “little team that could” did it in extraordinary fashion.
Participating in just eight of the 20 events, four distance events, two relays and two jumping events, CBU won six of them, including two separate relays, to score 87 points and beat second-place Lindenwood by 15 points.
“We built strong team dynamics and built a strong faith in who they were as individuals as well as in their training and that all translated into some really special performances by the time we got to the championships,” said NAIA Coach of the Year Irv Ray afterwards. “It was a neat experience. It was extremely rewarding and satisfying. You can’t do it without a group of athletes like those we brought on board, and it was the training they did. They’re not just good athletes. They go out and execute in crucial situations.”
The Lancers’ 4x800-meter relay team of Nate Browne, James Adams, Ricky Etheridge and Milton Browne ran a 7:31.55, which is still an NAIA record to this day. The Lancers also won the Distance Medley Relay, Etheridge won the mile, Kris Bowditch won the 3,000 meters, Jimmy Devine won the long jump and Eric Boykin won the triple jump. Nate Browne finished second in the 800, Etheridge was third in the 1,000 and Bowditch was second only to Etheridge in the mile.
CBU scored in every event it participated in and its worst finish was a sixth-place showing by long jump champion Jimmy Devine in the triple jump. Adams finished fourth in the 1,000 meters. Everyone else finished third or better.
Etheridge in the mile and Bowditch in the 3,000 meters became the first non-Africans to win those events at the NAIA Championships in more than a decade. Boykin won the triple jump on his final jump of the competition. In all, the Lancers garnered 17 All-American honors.
Etheridge was named the Harry Gill Outstanding Performer, running the first leg of the DMR, the third leg of the 4x800, winning the mile and finishing third in the 1,000.
“We went after the relays as part of our long-range plan,” said Ray. “Teams that won in the past, though, had people who could do double duty. That’s a lot to ask, but it’s how championships are won.”
And it’s the way an undermanned Lancer team put together one of the most remarkable NAIA Championship performances ever.
Jimmy Devine – Long Jump (24’ 9 ¾”)
Nate Browne, James Adams, Ricky Etheridge, Milton Browne – 4x800-meter relay – 7:31.55 (NR)
Ricky Etheridge – Mile (4:05.42)
Eric Boykin – Triple Jump (51’ 3 ¾”)
Kris Bowditch – 3,000 meters (8:15.78)
Ricky Etheridge, Nate Browne, Milton Browne, Kris Bowditch – DMR (10:00.42)
CBU and the transition to the NCAA series timeline
June 14 – Introduction to the series
June 18 – Moment No. 9 - 1999 Men's Water Polo
June 19 – Moment No. 8 - 2010 Baseball
June 20 – Moment No. 7 – 1974 Men’s Tennis
June 21 – Moment No. 6 – 2011 Women’s Golf
June 24 – Moment No. 5 – 2009 Softball
June 26 – Moment No. 3 – 2005 Women’s Volleyball
June 27 – Moment No. 2 – 2007 Men’s Volleyball
June 28 – Moment No. 1 – 1999 Men’s Indoor Track and Field
July 1 – A comprehensive look back at more than 45 years with the NAIA
July 8 – A look back at the last three years of transition to the NCAA