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SOU's Sanders becomes multi-event All-American

GULF SHORES, Ala. — Southern Oregon junior Markus Sanders didn't miss his shot at redemption, and in the process became an All-American in a second event Friday at the NAIA Outdoor Track & Field Championships.

Sanders stole third place in the discus finals, while Kevin Jorgensen qualified for the finals in his 800-meter trial and Eric Avila and Jared Hixon did the same in the 5,000 meters, setting up one more big day for the Raiders at Mickey Miller Blackwell Stadium.

"Markus got us points where we weren't scheduled to so that's a bonus," Raiders coach Grier Gatlin said. "He's going home a two-time All-American which is fantastic. And the distance crew all advanced so we'll see if we can get some points their in the finals."

Sanders, who claimed seventh place in the hammer on Thursday, fouled out in his attempts at the discus two weeks ago at the Cascade Conference Championships and was the No. 10 overall seed coming into the NAIA meet. On his third attempt, he notched a season-best throw of 169 feet, 6 inches - good for the sixth-best in school history.

Sanders' top throw in the discus entering Friday had been 166-11. He's the fifth individual in Raider men's history to attain All-American status in two disciplines at the same meet.

Nate Moses of Concordia (Ore.) won with a mark of 202-9, over 30 feet better than runner-up Jacob Armbrust of Olivet Nazarene.

Avila, the top overall seed coming into the 5K by over 30 seconds, was well ahead of the pack for most of his preliminary race and sailed into the finish line with a time of 15 minutes, 30.62 seconds. Hixon placed fourth in the same heat, securing his spot in the finals in 15:35.26. Oregon Tech's Paul Adams and Eastern Oregon's DJ Flores qualified in the same heat, taking second and fifth, respectively.

Avila and Hixon also qualified together on Thursday for the 1,500-meter finals.

Jorgensen, a No. 4 seed, won one of the five 800-meter trials and was the only qualifier in his heat. He came in at 1:52.75, holding off Aquinas's Caleb Teachout by .14 seconds. Concordia's Matthew Clowes registered the top trial time, 1:50.59.

As one of the eight in the finals, Jorgensen is guaranteed to be an All-American after missing out by one spot last year in the 1,500 meters.

In the 400-meter preliminaries, Jonz Olander capped his SOU career with a 15th-place finish in 48.84 seconds. He was fourth in his heat, which was won by Oklahoma Baptist's Travis Hinton with the top trial time of 47.75.

"It was a bittersweet day having Jonz not qualify," Gatlin said. "He's meant so much to our school and our track programs that we all really wanted him to get to that final. He's really a class person and handled it as well as anyone."

Olander was a two-time national champion as part of SOU's distance medley relay teams during his career. He was also a seven-time Cascade Conference champion, and the 15th-place finish was his best ever individually at outdoor nationals.

Three Raiders became All-Americans on Thursday — Eric Ghelfi, Sanders and national champion Stephanie Techler. Along with Avila, Hixon and Jorgensen, three other Raiders will be competing in finals today: Ghelfi in the marathon, Holly Haga in the discus and Amelia Maguin in the 400-meter hurdles.

The SOU men have nine team points, putting them in 13th place. Concordia, heavy on already-completed field events, leads with 48.