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San Marcos, TX

March 31, 2019 | Blake Cochran

The Southwestern Assemblies of God University (SAGU) Lions sent their two NAIA national qualifiers to San Marcos, TX to compete in the Texas State Bobcat Invitational on Friday, March 29th. Cody Walker (Jr.) and Zackery Hammond (Fr.) , who earlier this season hit the NAIA National Outdoor Track Championships in the half marathon standard, raced in the 3,000 steeplechase and the 5,000m run,

Walker is currently #2 NCCAA and #17 in the NAIA with a time of 9:59.77 beginning the evening off for the men in purple with the goal of 9:32 on his mind. Unfortunately, he came up short of the mark and was .11 off of his season best, but the effort was there. Walker finished 8th out of 22 with the time of 9:59.88. Head Coach Jason Covarrubias on Cody’s performance, “Although Cody is an NCCAA All-American in the steeple, he has only run it four to five times. Tonight was huge for him because the field was very competitive, which for a steeple is hard to find.  Most meets will have 2-8 runners and maybe one who had broken the 10:00 barrier, so in a sense, he has always run it alone, but tonight there was 8 all under 10!  I told Cody to run with the front pack and let’s see if the competition could take you into the 9:30s. He did just that and added a chink in his armor that will serve a purpose later.”

Zackery Hammond competed in the 5,000m later that evening, 9:35 to be exact and looked like he belonged.  Hammond was coming into the race ranked 5th in the NCCAA and 17th in the NAIA with the time of 15:20.63 and had the goal of 14:59 on his mind.  Unfortunately, like Walker, Zackery fell short of the mark and .34 of his school record.  He finished 9th out of 39 with the time of 15:20.97.  Coach Covarrubias commented, “I am extremely proud of Zack!  He went out there tonight, knowing that the field had over five men who have broken the 15:00 barrier and stuck right with them.  Zack was in 3rd place for 10 laps and even cross the two-mile mark at 9:37, which is a two-mile PR (personal record), then the wheels fell off, but that was the strategy. He has never been pushed or has never been aggressive enough to go with the front pack. I told him to die with the front pack or watch from the second ‘safe’ pack and you never know.  He is 3-4 laps away from getting to the mark and we still have six weeks of training to get there.”

Coach Covarrubias concluded the interview with some exclamatory remarks about the evening, “There are times when ‘safe’ running is acceptable but then there are times when ‘uncomfortable’ running is required, and tonight was all about tasting discomfort. Both of these men went with the front pack and held their own, given them both a top 10 finish. Coming up short of the time is irrelevant because they gained experience, confidence, and a competitive mindset, which is far more valuable than a mark. It is as though these two tasted blood for the first time, I would watch out when they line up the next time.”

The Lions and Lady Lions next head north to Texas A&M Commerce for the East Texas Invitational on Friday and Saturday, April 12th and 13th.

Southwestern Assemblies of God University is a private, Christian university located 30 minutes south of the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex in Waxahachie, Texas. The university was established in 1927, and now offers more than 70 associate, bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees on campus or online. More information is available at

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