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Relay earns SOU's best national finish

JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. — Southern Oregon challenged for the women's distance medley relay title Saturday at the NAIA Indoor Track & Field Championships and placed fifth, making a quartet of Raiders All-Americans on the track for the first time.

Junior Aspen Abbott (400 meters), senior Jessie Rozario (800), freshman Kayle Blackmore (1,200) and sophomore Jessa Perkinson (mile) shared the honors, combining for a time of 12 minutes 3.30 seconds. They were a little over five seconds off the pace set by Aquinas (Mich.), which won the race in 11:58.04.

For Rozario, a staple of SOU track and cross country since her freshman year, the national accolades came in her final collegiate race. Perkinson was the only one in the group who had previously been an All-American, collecting hardware this fall as the leader of SOU's cross country team.

Only one previous Raider women's relay team had ever placed in the top eight on the indoor or outdoor stage — SOU's 4x100 squad in 2002, which took sixth place at the NAIA Outdoor Championships. This was the first women's DMR team SOU had ever brought to the Indoor Championships.

The Raiders had also taken fifth of 18 in Thursday's prelims with a time of 12:04.91. College of Idaho had the fastest preliminary time and ultimately took third.

SOU's outdoor season begins next Saturday at Chico State's Wildcat Invite in Chico, Calif.