SPRING ARBOR, Mich. – The official qualifiers for the 2016 NAIA Men's and Women's Outdoor Track & Field National Championships have been announced by the national office. The 65th annual men's and 36th annual women's events will take place Thursday-Saturday, May 26-28 at Mickey Miller Blackwell Stadium in Gulf Shores, Alabama.
Spring Arbor University will have three student-athletes competing in this year's championships in sophomore Bethany Kuenzer, freshman Katrina Tovar and freshman Joshua Smith. Kuenzer and Tovar both qualified in the women's pole vault while Smith will race in the men's 110 meter hurdles.
After coming up just short of All-American status last year, Kuenzer will have her eyes set on a top-eight finish this time around. The Pittsford, Michigan native will be making her second consecutive trip to the outdoor national championships, and third national appearance overall after qualifying for the indoor national championships earlier this year. Kuenzer currently ranks 11th in the country in the event. She cleared a career-best 11' 11.75" (3.65m) at the Otterbein Twilight Invitational – a mark that tied the school record.
Tovar, who is making her first appearance on the national stage, enters the meet ranked 12th in the pole vault – just one spot back of Kuenzer – with a mark of 11' 9.75" (3.60m). The freshman from Sandusky, Michigan had an outstanding rookie season with the Cougars. Her name litters the school record book owning Top 10 marks in several events, including the program's all-time best mark in the triple jump (35' 3.75").
Smith, from Sterling Heights, Michigan, has made an immediate impact as a freshman. In just the second meet of his collegiate career, he smashed the school record in the 60 meter hurdles, and would go on to capture All-American honors at the indoor national championships in the event. Smith has continued to impress and will aim to take home his second piece of hardware at the outdoor national championships. He currently ranks 20th in the 110 meter hurdles with a time of 14.88.
The women's pole vault is scheduled for Thursday, May 26 at 3 p.m. while the prelims for the men's 110 meter hurdles will run on Friday, May 27 at 1:45 p.m. with the finals set for Saturday, May 28 at 3:30 p.m.
Stretch Internet, the NAIA's official video-streaming company of NAIA national championship events, will be broadcasting the events on www.NAIANetwork.com. A subscription package to view the entire three-day event is $14.95. For more information, including how to register and sign-up for an account, click HERE.