SOU to send 17 to track & field nationals
Seventeen athletes from Southern Oregon University will be making the trip this week to Gulf Shores, Alabama, and the 65th annual NAIA Outdoor Track & Field Championships, the events list for which was released Friday by the national office.
The meets runs Thursday through Saturday at Mickey Blackwell Stadium, which is serving as the host for the third year in a row. The Raiders will be represented by 11 individuals in eight disciplines on the men's side, and by five individuals in three disciplines on the women's side.
Jared Hixon and Dylan Alexander are SOU's only previous Outdoor All-Americans going to the meet. Hixon — the men's runner of the meet at last week's Cascade Conference Championships, where he won the 1,500- and 5,000-meter races — will run the 1,500 at the national meet as the No. 7 seed (3:51.24). He placed fourth in the 1,500 in 2014. Alexander, last year's NAIA 5K champ, will be the No. 9 seed in in the 5K (14:45.42). He was runner-up behind Hixon at the CCC meet, which was just his second race back from an injury that had kept him out since last spring.
Kevin Poteracke will be the No. 9 seed in the 3,000-meter steeplechase (9:23.92) and Caleb Diaz the No. 14 seed in the 10K (31:16.82). SOU's 4x100-meter relay team of Julius Shellmire, Zac Hannan, Hayden Saparto and Cameron Bremner enters with the NAIA's 11th-fastest time (41.33).
In the field, SOU will bring a pair of CCC champions: Zach Beltz, the No. 8 seed in the long jump (24-1 ½), and Tylor King, the No. 10 seed in the shot put (54-2 ¼). Joseph Dotson is the No. 6 seed in the decathlon after putting up 6,408 points for a second-place finish at the CCC Multi-Event Championships.
For the Raider women, Jessa Perkinson — who has broken SOU records this season in the 1,500 (4:33.42), the 5K (17:11.27) and the 10K (36:14.72) — has entered as the fifth seed in the 5K and the third seed in the 10K. The last Raider to become an All-American in two individual disciplines at the same NAIA meet was Melanie Byrne in 1989.
The Raiders women will also bring their school-record breaking 4x800 relay team of Kayle Blackmore, Natalie Berania, Braana Weber and Aspen Abbott, which enters as the No. 6 seed with a time of 9:18.88.
SOU had six All-American performances at the 2015 NAIA Championships, including titles for Alexander and Amelia Maguin (400 hurdles).
Ashland High School will host Wilsonville in the first round of the OSAA Class 5A state tournament Wednesday at North Mountain Park.
The Grizzlies, who beat Lebanon 4-0 in a play-in game Friday, are seeded seventh in the 16-team tournament, while Wilsonville is seeded 10th. Ashland (18-8) finished third in the Midwestern League and the Wilsonville Wildcats placed fourth in the Northwest Oregon Conference, which also includes ninth-seeded Putnam and 15th-seeded Liberty.
The Ashland-Wilsonville winner will face either 15th-seeded Eagle Point or second-seeded Hood River Valley in a state quarterfinal game Friday. The higher seeds will serve as hosts through the state semifinals, so should Ashland and Eagle Point advance their quarterfinal matchup would be played in Ashland.
The Midwestern League has five teams in the Sweet 16: Ashland, Eagle Point, sixth-seeded Churchill, third-seeded Crater and fifth-seeded Marist.
Joe Zavala contributed to this report.