Truly looking to make a major Memorial Day Weekend memory for himself, Colorado Mesa University junior John Cusick took his final start of the 2014 season in the finals of the 1,500-meter run at the NCAA Division II Outdoor Track & Field National Championships.
A 2011 Bayfield graduate, he'd finished third in his preliminary heat at Grand Valley State University in Michigan two days before with a time of 3:55.57. That left him 12th-fastest going into the grand finale, looking either to win it all or at least place in the top eight and gain D-II All-America status.
Unfortunately neither was to be for the former Wolverine. Unable to better his standing inside GVSU Track & Field Stadium, he ran 4 minutes, 6.14 seconds and remained 12th. Tarleton (Texas) State University sophomore Chase Rathke won with 3:45.60.
Ashland, Ohio, University junior Brian Baum took second in 3:46.91, and Adams State (Alamosa, Colo.) University junior Matt Daniels ended up third in 3:47.13.
Using the NCAA's distance-conversion factor, Cusick's Day 3 time equated to a 4:25.83 mile-or still faster than his BHS-record 4:27.
All three ran in the second prelim, while Cusick competed in the first and barely trailed Colorado School of Mines senior Frank Socha's 3:55.26 and TSU soph Dylan Willett's 3:55.51.
One of four Mavericks to make the trip from Grand Junction, Colo., to Allendale, Mich., Cusick had earned his championships berth with a 3:48.51-over the 'automatic' standard of 3:45.17 (a 4:03.18 mile!)
All told at the NCAA meet, CMU finished 14th in the men's standings with 18 total points. St. Augustine's (Raleigh, N.C.) University won the title with 112.
FLINT NOT FAYETTEVILLE-BOUND: Bayfield alum Steve Flint, shown as a junior on Brigham Young University stat sheets, currently holds his team's sixth-best time in the 3,000-meter steeplechase, but was not one of the four Cougars accepted to run at last month's NCAA Div. I Track & Field West Region Preliminary in Fayetteville, Ark.
His 9:05.63 in the event, achieved April 4 at the Stanford Invitational in Palo Alto, Calif., ranked 62nd nationwide but was a "scratch" when West competitors were announced. Freshman teammate Nicholas Plumb's 9:04.91 (59th-best) also went unaccepted for the 48-runner field, but the 60th- and 61st-best times (by Gonzaga senior Patrick Richie and Arkansas senior Raymond Joseph, respectively) were.
The qualifiers from the regional advance to the D-I Outdoor Nationals, June 11-14 in Eugene, Ore.
Coming into 2014's completed indoor T&F season off a 137th-place run at the 2013 NCAA Div. I Cross-Country Championships [at which BYU took fourth as a team], Flint recorded a 4:10.81 mile back in February at the New Balance Armory Invitational in New York City.
Last spring he was selected for the West Preliminary, where his steeplechase time was 8:46.19.