The 2015 NAIA Outdoor track season has come to a close, culminating in a three day Championship meet last week in Gulf Shores, Alabama. The Southern Oregon Raiders finished with six All-American honors (given to the top eight individual performances in each event and the top eight relay teams). In total, there were thirteen SOU male participants and three female participants in the meet.
Some of Thursday’s events were suspended due to a lightning storm, but that didn’t prevent senior Markus Sanders from repeating as an All-American in the hammer throw, receiving 4th place with a throw of 191 feet, 6 inches. Sanders, who last season became the first Raider to register two All-American performances in one meet, did the same this year, adding a 6th place finish in the discus on Friday. Fellow senior Eric Ghelfi also received All-American honors on Friday, for the 4th career time, with a 7th place finish in the 10,000 meter run.
Compared to Thursday and Friday, Saturday was a momentous day for Raider track. Senior Amelia Maguin, who finished runner-up the previous two seasons in the 400-meter hurdles, finally broke through, smoking the competition by nearly two seconds to take home her third career All-American honors.
Maguin said of her accomplishment and career via Instagram, “The past four years I’ve worked so hard to achieve this goal… I appreciate everyone who has supported me the past four years … for making me stick it out and do everything I can to win a national championship in the 400m hurdles. It’s been a fun ride SOU.”
With the victory, Maguin broke her own school record in the 400-meter hurdles for the fourth time this season, and secured the 7th SOU NAIA women’s title in Raider history, and only the 2nd in a running event.
SOU freshman, Hayden Saparto, who finished 2nd in the 100-meter in the Cascade Conference Championship and narrowly missed a national qualification reflected on the season, saying, “As a team we did really well with the fact that we had about as many redshirt as people competing. Amelia really helped us shine this season.”
Junior Dylan Alexander, who was making his first NAIA championship appearance, needed his own form of heroics to reign victorious in the 5,000 meter on Saturday. Alexander led for only about a second during the race; he trailed most of the way, but made a push in the final 400 meters and made up a gap of nearly 5 seconds in the process. With the first place finish, Alexander became SOU men’s 10th outdoor champion and just the 3rd in a running event.
The Raider men finished 12th with 26 points, and the women finished tied for 28th with 10 points.
Coach Grier Gatlin said of the event via the SOU Raider Athletic page, “Things ended well with Amelia and Dylan. Things could’ve gone much better but we got through another national meet with some great performances.
Redshirt junior Zach Boyd-Helm also received All-American honors on Saturday, finishing 3rd in the 800-meter run. Cascade Conference Champ in the discus, Danny Parks finished 9th in the hammer throw and 13th in the discus throw.
As far as Saparto is concerned, he is poised to do anything to succeed next year, “Because of what I consider [personal] sub par results this year, I will work till my legs fall off so I never even come close to the times and distances of this year.”