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RAIDER ROUNDUP: Daniel nearly wins national title in 400

GULF SHORES, Alabama — Arianna Daniel missed a national championship by a hair Friday while putting the finishing touches on a dazzling career for the Southern Oregon University track and field team at Mickey Miller Blackwell Stadium.

On the final day of the NAIA Outdoor Championships, Daniel’s runner-up effort in the women’s 400-meter race was one of four All-America performances for the Raiders. The women’s 4x100 relay team — with Daniel, Lindsey Bonney, Julia Delucchi and Baylee Touey — placed fifth, Adam O’Brien placed seventh in the pole vault, and Kevin VanDyke placed eighth in the 3K steeplechase.

SOU departed the meet with seven total All-Americans including Joseph Dotson, who finished second in the decathlon Thursday.

Daniel’s two newest All-America plaques gave her nine total, the most ever for a Raider sprinter and the second-most in women’s team history behind Jessa Perkinson.

In the 400, after running her fourth straight PR in Thursday’s prelims with the top qualifying time of 55.24 seconds, she ran the final in 55.33 — only four-hundredths of a second behind champion Jakarri Alven, a freshman from Aquinas (Mich.). Daniel’s finish matched that of Tiwana Merritt, the 400 runner-up 20 years ago, for the best in the event at SOU.

An hour earlier in the 4x100 relay, the Raiders clocked in at 46.56 seconds for the top finish in women’s team history in that race a day after setting another school record in the prelims. It marked the fourth straight season that SOU turned in a top-eight showing in a women’s relay. William Carey won it in 45.51.

O’Brien, a sophomore, became SOU’s first All-American in the men’s pole vault since 2008. He did it by clearing the bar three attempts in a row, the last at 16 feet ¾ inches to match his PR. His teammate, Garrett Bryan, was just behind him in 11th place. He cleared 15-9.

The Raiders had a pair of top-10 steeplechase placers in VanDyke (9:24.13) and Zeke Stelzer (9:28.18). VanDyke, a senior, became an All-American for the first time by edging the ninth-place finisher, Indiana Wesleyan’s Landon Miller, by .35 seconds.

College Football

SOU’S 2021 SCHEDULE RELEASED: When Southern Oregon lines up for its 2021 season opener, the Raiders will have waited 654 days since their last game to finally take the field again.

They’ll mark the occasion against Rocky Mountain (Mont.) in Billings, Mont., setting in motion a 10-game Frontier Conference schedule that is finalized and available to view now.

SOU will make its long-awaited return to Raider Stadium on Sept. 4 to play Montana-State Northern in its first of five home games. The next, following a trip to College of Idaho, is on Sept. 25 against Carroll (Mont.). The Raiders will celebrate SOU Sports Hall of Fame Weekend on Oct. 2 with Eastern Oregon in town, host Montana Tech on Oct. 23, and have a Homecoming date with College of Idaho on Oct. 30 in the home finale.

The Raiders will also visit Montana Western on Oct. 9 and finish the regular season with back-to-back road games at Carroll on Nov. 6 and Eastern Oregon on Nov. 13.

SOU was among three Frontier teams that opted out of the condensed spring 2021 season. Carroll, College of Idaho and Eastern Oregon topped the five-team standings with matching 3-1 records, and Carroll took the tiebreaker and an automatic spot in the NAIA Championship Series, where it bowed out in the first round.

The Raiders, currently conducting spring practices, tied for fifth place in 2019. The 2021 season will be head coach Charlie Hall’s fifth at the helm.

SOU's Arianna Daniel, seen here in a file photo, nearly won an NAIA title in the 400-meter at the national meet Friday. (Al Case / Ashland Daily Photo)