Today was the first day of the NAIA Outdoor Track & Field Championships in Gulf Shores, Alabama. Joe Dotson, decathlon, was the first Raider to compete — after five events he sits in tenth place with 3218 points, and only 79 points back of 8th place (the cut-off for “All-American” status). Competing second for the Southern Oregon was the men’s 4x100m relay team (Julius Shellmire, Zac Hannan, Hayden Sparto, Cameron Brenner) which placed third in heat two with a time of 41.47 seconds, putting them 5th overall going into Saturday’s finals.
Jared Hixon raced the 1500m prelims which ended in a tight pack finish. Hixon conserved his energy for the entirety of the race and placed fifth in heat one with a time of 3:54.52. This brought a scare, as the only top 4 in each heat automatically advance, and Hixon was beaten at the line (4th place finished in 3:54.50). But his time was fast enough to put him as a top 12 finisher overall, and to qualify him for Saturday’s 1500m final, which will be his last race as a Raider.
The women’s 4x800m relay team, which broke the school record back in April, did not qualify for the Friday’s final. The squad consisting of Kayle Blackmore, Natalie Berania, Bree Webber and Aspen Abbott, ran 9:28.36 to place fifth in heat three. Something to note though is the fact that each member will be returning to Southern Oregon next year.
Rounding up Day 1 of the action was the 10000m race. Competing in only her second 10000m race of her running career, Jessa Perkinson took home the national title with a time of 36:10.83.
Perkinson rode the back of the pack for the first two miles, but by the the third mile was with the front. For the next 2.5 miles, she stuck with the leaders until she decided to kick it into an extra gear with 800 meters left, closing in a devastating 69 second last lap and beating the closest runner by 13 seconds. The title is the first one for a woman in a distance event in Southern Oregon University history and adds to Perkinson’s success over the year: All-American in cross country, as well as, breaking the school records in the 1500m, 5000m and 10000m. Perkinson will get the chance to add to her hardware on Saturday when she competes in the 5000m final, where she is seeded fifth.
Perkinson wasn’t the only Raider running the 10000m. Caleb Diaz, competing in his first national meet, placed 17th with a time of 33:06.87. Diaz, a junior and part of the 2015 national cross country team, will be back competing for the Raiders next year.
8 a.m. – Men’s Decathlon (Joe Dotson)
11 a.m. – Men’s Long Jump final (Zach Beltz)
5 p.m. – Men’s 5K trials (Dylan Alexander)