HILLSDALE, Mich. – In the final meet of the regular season, sophomore Kevin Smith hit the qualifying standard in the decathlon for the NAIA Outdoor Track & Field National Championships later this month.
Smith finished fourth in the event at the Hillsdale College Classic on Thursday, racking up a personal-best 6,042 points – a mark that currently ranks 17th nationally. Only 16 athletes will compete in the decathlon at the national championship meet and the qualifiers will be officially announced on Monday, May 16.
Smith claimed first place in the long jump with a leap of 22' 6.5" (6.87m), and posted personal-bests in three other events. He finished second in both the 100 meter dash and the 1500 meter run with times of 11.39 and 4:57.80 – both PR's. The Battle Creek, Michigan native would also hit a career-best in the discus with a throw of 95' 7" (29.13m).
Junior Alex Lodes captured third in the 100 and 200 meter dash with times of 10.89 and 22.30. Senior Uriah Rogers and freshman Sam Ellis were close behind in sixth and seventh in the 200 clocking in at 23.24 and 23.28, respectively.
Freshman Austin Hickerson narrowly missed an event win in the 400 meter dash. Hickerson placed second with a time of 49.26 – the third-best performance in program history. Fellow freshman Joshua Smith took fifth in the 400 meter hurdles with a time of 58.10.
The 4x100 meter relay team, comprised of Ellis, Rogers, Smith and Lodes, ran the fifth-fastest time in SAU history, completing the race in 42.77 to take fourth in the event.
Highlighting the meet on the women's side was a record breaking performance by sophomore Bethany Kuenzer in the 100 meter hurdles. Kuenzer was unable to make it out of the prelims but still finished in a program all-time best of 15.25.
Kuenzer would also take sixth in the pole vault after clearing 11' 9.75" (3.60m). Freshman Katrina Tovar earned ninth with a mark of 11' 1.75" (3.40m). Tovar also competed in the long jump and would grab third in the event with a jump of 17' 4" (5.28m).
Sophomore Leslie Tanis placed 11th in both the shot put and javelin. In the shot put, Tanis hit 34' 7" (10.54m) while throwing 94' 1" (28.67) in the javelin.
The national championship meet in scheduled for Thursday-Saturday, May 26-28 at Mickey Miller Blackwell Stadium in Gulf Shores, Alabama.