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SOU distance relay qualifies for NAIA finals

GENEVA, Ohio — Southern Oregon's men's distance medley relay team had to navigate through a little more drama than it anticipated Thursday before securing a spot in Saturday's title race at the NAIA Indoor Track & Field Championships.

In the preliminary round at the SPIRE Institute, the top-seeded Raiders posted an unusually slow time of 10 minutes, 6.13 seconds in the 4,000-meter race. They finished fourth of nine teams in their heat and sixth of 17 overall.

The top two teams in each heat and the next four top times after that advanced. Concordia (Ore.) posted the top qualifying time of 10:02.70.

SOU, which has won the last two DMR championships with back-to-back record-setting times, had to overcome a minor pre-race injury to one of its runners and a baton drop during the race itself.

Zach Boyd-Helm ran the first 1,200 meters, Kevin Jorgensen the next 800, JJ Latu the 400 and Jared Hixon anchored the final mile.

Outside of SOU and Concordia, the other qualifiers were Embry-Riddle (Fla.) at 10:02.89, Carroll (Mont.) at 10:02.99, St. Francis (Ill.) at 10:04.81, Tennessee Wesleyan at 10:06.06, Olivet Nazarene (Ill.) at 10:09.27 and Aquinas (Mich.) at 10:13.17.

The championship race will take place at 12:50 p.m. PST on Saturday.

SOU's Amelia Maguin will run in the women's 400-meter semifinals at 10:55 a.m. today.