Huntington, Ind.—Eight Huntington University track and field athletes will compete in the NAIA Indoor Track and Field National Championships to be held March 8-10 in Johnson City, Tenn. Three of the athletes, freshman Bethany McGraw and sophomores Dan Lindbloom and Joseph Njeri, will be making their national debut, while the remaining five, which include senior Cody Hannie, junior Joel Sanders and sophomores Lucas Beach, Nick Johnson and Jill Roughia, hope their previous experiences at the national level will aid their performances this year. All eight of the athletes met qualifying standards set by the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics at the beginning of the season in their respective events.
Cody Hannie, a senior English education major from Fort Wayne, Ind. (Snider High School), is making his fourth appearance at the Indoor Track and Field National Championships. Hannie will be competing in the 1000-meter run for the second time. He ran in the same event as a freshman and finished 15th. As a sophomore, he ran in the 3000 meter run, and last season, he qualified in the 800-meter race. Hannie ran his qualifying time of 2:32.42 on Feb. 17 at DePauw University. He will run in his semi-final heat on Friday at 4:55 p.m. Finals are set for Saturday at 1:55 p.m.
Joel Sanders, a junior elementary education major from Fort Wayne, Ind. (Snider High School), returns to the national event for the third time to compete in the 1000-meter run. However, this time he returns as an All-American in the event. Last year, Sanders earned the honor by sprinting to a fifth place finish in the event and set a new personal record time of 2:28.62 to boot. This season, he met qualification standards with a time of 2:32.27, which he posted at DePauw University on Feb. 17. He will join Hannie at the line for the semi-final heat on Friday at 4:55 p.m.
Lucas Beach, a sophomore Bible and religion and physical education double major from Lucerne, Ind. (Pioneer High School), returns looking to repeat as an All-American. Beach wasted little time making his presence known as a freshman last season. On his second of six attempts in the shot put event, Beach came up with his own PR, a toss of 53' 2.25", to secure a fifth place finish and his first All-American honors. He qualified to compete in the shot put again this year on Feb. 17 at DePauw University with his toss of 52-06.00. Beach is slated to throw on Saturday at 1 p.m.
Nick Johnson, a sophomore exercise science major from Huntington, Ind. (Huntington North High School), earned his second opportunity to compete in the 3000 meter race at the National Championships by posting a time of 8:55.90 on Feb. 3 at Taylor University. This year, Johnson is looking to improve on his 26th place finish in the 3000 last season. Johnson will run in the semi-final round of the 3000 meter race at 5:40 p.m. on Friday with the finals on Saturday at 2:20 p.m.
Jill Roughia, a sophomore history education major from Bryant, Ind. (Jay County High School), is headed back to the national event to again compete in the 1000-meter run. Roughia ran to a 20th place finish in the race last season as a freshman. She enters this year’s competition having set a new personal record on Feb. 24 at Anderson University with her qualifying time of 3:06.00. Roughia will compete in the 1000 meter prelims on Friday at 4:40 p.m. with the finals set for 1:45 p.m. on Saturday.
Dan Lindbloom, a sophomore exercise science major from Evergreen Park, Ill. (Chicago Christian High School), is a first-time qualifier. He will get his introduction to national competition in the 3000-meter run. He met qualification standards with the 8:57.03 time he turned in at the University of Chicago on Feb. 23. He will join Johnson in the 3000 meter semi-final race at 5:40 p.m. on Friday with the finals set for 2:20 p.m. on Saturday.
Bethany McGraw, a freshman exercise science major from Perrysburg, Ohio (Toledo Christian High School), met qualification standards in the long jump in her debut as a Forester. She recorded a leap of 17-11.00 in Huntington’s Frozen Forest Invitational on Jan. 13. McGraw is the first female to compete in a field event at the national championships since 2003 when Erin Abbey competed in the long jump. The women’s long jump competition is set for Saturday at 2:45 p.m.
Joseph Njeri, a sophomore sociology major form Nairobi, Kenya, will compete in the 5000 meter run in his first appearance at the National Championships. Njeri met the NAIA’s qualification standard in the event on Feb. 27 at the University of Findlay with a time of 15:28.50. Njeri will run in the semi-final round of the 5000 at 7:15 p.m. on Friday with the finals on Saturday at 3:10 p.m.