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MailTribune.com
  • Raider women to roll out experience at NAIAs

  • ASHLAND — Amelia Maguin has given Southern Oregon University a good reason to hope for its first individual NAIA women's title in 19 years. Holly Haga, Rebecca Lupescu and Stephanie Techler each have legitimate All-American aspirations, too.
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  • ASHLAND — Amelia Maguin has given Southern Oregon University a good reason to hope for its first individual NAIA women's title in 19 years. Holly Haga, Rebecca Lupescu and Stephanie Techler each have legitimate All-American aspirations, too.
    They've been here before, and all signs point to the four Raider women being thoroughly competitive again this Thursday through Saturday when the NAIA Outdoor Track and Field Championships take place at Mickey Miller Blackwell Stadium in Gulf Shores, Ala.
    Maguin is the No. 2 seed in the 400-meter hurdles, Techler is No. 8 in the pole vault, Haga is No. 11 in the discus, and Lupescu is No. 20 in the 5,000-meter race and No. 14 in the 10K.
    Coming off a runner-up finish in the same event last year, Maguin can become the 12th two-time All-American in SOU women's history if she lands in the top eight again. As the second seed in a field of 20, she also has a chance to deliver the Raiders' first title since Jill Carrier won the heptathlon in 1995. Standing in her way, however, is defending champion Zalika Dixon, a senior from Indiana Tech.
    Dixon beat Maguin by just over two seconds last year with a time of 58.34 seconds, and this year she earned the top seed with a qualifying time of 58.34. Maguin established her qualifying time on May 10 at the Cascade Conference Championships, where she won by breaking her own school and meet records in 59.63 seconds. Maguin also qualified for the 100-meter hurdles but won't enter.
    The preliminary races are scheduled to begin Thursday at 1 p.m. Pacific Time, and the finals will take place Saturday at 1:10 p.m.
    "Dixon is really good and Amelia has a lot of experience racing here a couple times before, so it's going to be highly competitive," SOU head coach Grier Gatlin said. "Amelia had a great conference meet and is set up to do very, very well."
    Techler, who was second in the pole vault at the CCC Championships, narrowly missed All-American status in 2013 — she placed 10th at 11 feet, 7 inches — and set a new personal best this season at 11-11 . That mark puts her just three inches behind top-seeded Jeslyn Zimmerly, the defending champion from Bethel (Ind.).
    The pole vault finals begin Thursday at 1 p.m.
    "You just never know what's going to happen in the jumps and throws, especially when the field is as tight as this," Gatlin said. "If you're mentally ready, that's what usually separates you. So I think Stephanie has as good of a shot as anyone to win it."
    Haga will be making her fourth and final appearance at the NAIA Championships. She's been a top-20 performer every season in thediscus and earned her best seed yet this season with a mark of 150-11 on April 12 at Chico State. Removed from top-seeded Jennifer Maag of Hastings (Neb.) by less than eight feet, Haga was also a runner-up at the CCC Championships with a throw of 141-2.
    The discus is slated get underway Saturday at noon.
    As of this writing, Gatlin didn't know if Lupescu would run both the 5,000- and 10,000-meter races, but she'll certainly be in the former. It was in the 5K last year that she placed 12th in 18:11.33, and she qualified this season by establishing a time of 17:37.15 at the Oregon Relays. She's a higher seed in the 10K, too, but that event's Thursday finals would present a difficult turnaround for the 5K, which will have preliminaries Friday at 3:40 p.m. and finals Saturday at 2:30 p.m.
    Lupescu claimed second place at the CCC Championships, an improvement on her fifth-place effort in 2013. British Columbia's Maria Bernard is the clear favorite to win the title, but only 14 seconds separate Lupescu from the top eight going into the race.
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