Mavs’ Cusick finishes fourth in 1,500 at nationals

Matt Canterbury’s voice was a little hoarse Saturday night. But to Colorado Mesa’s head track and field coach, there was a good reason for it.

Canterbury was screaming from the sidelines as John Cusick competed in the finals of the 1,500 meters at the NCAA Division II Outdoor Track and Field Championships in Bradenton, Florida. His ultimate hopes were dashed when Cusick finished fourth, but he was still beaming hours after the race about how close Cusick was to winning a national championship.

“He’d never even been on the podium before,” Canterbury said. “The simple fact that he as right there in it with one lap to go? I couldn’t have been more happy for him.”

Cusick far exceeded his previous-best finish in the event when he finished 12th as a freshman. This year, he crossed the finish line in 3 minutes, 50.70 seconds but was in second place at the bell lap and finished 1.06 seconds behind Western Oregon’s David Ribich, who won in 3:49.64.

“I was giving everything I had, but I kind of found out I was maxing out in the final 100 meters,” Cusick said. “But at the 150 mark, I was pretty sure I had a chance.”

Cusick set the school record in the 1,500 last year at 3:47.70, according to CMU’s sports information department. He needed a stellar finish at a last-chance meet at Western State earlier this month to qualify for nationals.

His finish is the program’s best at the national meet since it was resurrected in 2012. Shane Niksic was seventh in the 1,500 in 2015 when he ran a 3:49.56.

“That was just a special way to finish,” he said. “I couldn’t feel more grateful.”

Competing in her final meet was Mesa senior Bacall Sterling, who took 21st in the triple jump with a mark of 39 feet, 3 1/4 inches. Mesa’s men’s team tallied 5.5 points to finish 44th.


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