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SOU decathlete Dotson second at nationals

Southern Oregon University’s Joseph Dotson places second in the decathlon. Photo from SOU

GULF SHORES, Ala. — Staying true to form until the end, Southern Oregon’s Joseph Dotson won’t be leaving the NAIA Outdoor Track and Field Championships without some hardware.

Dotson earned his first All-America honor as a freshman in 2016 and his sixth Thursday on Day 2 of the meet and his last in a Raider uniform, placing second in the decathlon with a personal record of 6,957 points at Mickey Miller Blackwell Stadium. He became the third individual in SOU men’s history with three top-two finishes in non-relay events (including the national indoor meet) as well as the program’s third four-time outdoor All-American.

Arianna Daniel also shined again and will become a nine-time overall All-American for the Raider women’s team after posting the top time in the 400-meter trials at 55.24 seconds, hitting a PR for the fourth consecutive race. SOU will be represented in four event finals Friday, and she’ll be in two of them, joining the Raiders’ 4x100 team for the other.

Freshman Camdyn Bruner moved up three spots in the final three events of the women’s heptathlon to finish 10th with 4,380 points. Her score was the fifth best in school history, and she was only 125 points short of becoming SOU’s first heptathlon All-American since 1995.

Dotson’s score was the highest for a Raider since Ross Kennedy won the decathlon national championship in 1997. It beat his old PR by 225 points but was 138 behind champion Lee Walburn of Carroll (Mont.), a sophomore in his first outdoor season who logged PRs in seven of 10 events.

Dotson capped Wednesday’s action with a PR in the 400 of 50.27 seconds to put him in ninth place, then started Thursday with another in the 110 hurdles of 15.33. He hit his third PR of the meet by clearing 15 feet, 1 inch in the pole vault — the same event in which he no-heighted last month in the Cascade Conference Championships, briefly putting his NAIA Championship qualification chances in peril.

However, Walburn pulled away in the penultimate event, the javelin, where he scored 687 points to Dotson’s 554. He kept Dotson close throughout the 1,500 finale and finished within a quarter-second of him.

Dotson competed at six NAIA championship meets in his career — four outdoor, two indoor — and never placed worse than sixth at any of them.

Daniel will be the next Raider to fatten her resume after her performance in the 400 trials. She supplanted her old PR of 55.39 seconds, established 12 days ago at the CCC championships when she won her fourth straight title. Rachel Battershell, of Concordia (Neb.), and Jakarri Alven, of Aquinas (Mich.) — who own the top two times on the NAIA list — were the only others to break 56 seconds.

Two Raiders were eliminated in the hurdles trials: Julia Delucchi, who was 24th in the women’s 100 in 14.77, and Bryce Goggin, who was 27th in the men’s 110 in 14.91. Delucchi will be in the 4x100 race Friday.

Garrett Bryan and Adam O’Brien will open for the Raiders at 11 a.m. Pacific Time in the pole vault. Zeke Stelzer and Kevin VanDyke will follow in the steeplechase at 12:20 p.m.