05.19.09 - Although Huntington University held its commencement ceremonies on Saturday, May 16, it wasn't the final event of the school year for several members of the Forester track program. Throughout the outdoor season, twelve student-athletes met NAIA qualifying standards in 16 different events earning them an opportunity to compete in the Outdoor Track & Field National Championships on May 21-23 in Edwardsville, Ill. Five will be making their debut on the national stage while seven are hoping to make good use of their prior experiences.
Lucas Beach, a senior recreation management major from Lucerne, Indiana (Pioneer High School), will compete in the national event for the fourth time in his career, but for the first time it will be in two events. He met qualifying standards in the shot put for the fourth time with a season-best toss of 52-01.25 at the Manchester Invitational on April 4. He also qualified in the hammer at the Indiana Little State meet with a mark of 170-02. Last spring Beach earned NAIA All-America honors for the first time in outdoor track with a fourth place finish in the shot put. During his career, he also has earned three NAIA All-America honors in the shot put at the Indoor National Championships. Beach will compete in the hammer on Thursday at 1:00 p.m. as the 21st seed and in the shot put on Friday at 1:00 p.m. as the 12th seed.
Lauren Davenport, a senior exercise science major from Andrews, Indiana (Huntington North High School), is making her third appearance at Outdoor Nationals. As a sophomore, she ran a leg in both the 4x400 and 4x800 relays and as a junior she competed in the 400 hurdles. This season she qualified in four events (400 meter, 400 hurdles, 800 meter and 4x400 relay), but will only compete in the 800 meter run and the relay. Davenport broke the school record in the 800 the first time she ran it on March 28 with an NAIA qualifying time of 2:13.36 and then shaved over four seconds off the record with a 2:09.11 at the Dr. Keeler Invitational on May 8. Davenport's outstanding time makes her the fourth seed in the event, the highest of the 12 Foresters participating at Nationals. She will toe the line for the 800 trials on Thursday at 4:10 p.m. with the semifinals scheduled for 3:20 on Friday and the finals set for 4:30 p.m. on Saturday. The 4x400 relay team will compete in the semifinals on Friday evening at 8:15 p.m. The finals will take place on Saturday at 5:55 p.m.
Dan Lindbloom, a senior exercise science major from Evergreen Park, Illinois (Chicago Christian High School) will be competing in the national meet for the third consecutive year in the 3000 meter steeplechase. He met qualifying standards and broke his own school record on May 8 at the Dr. Keeler Invitational with his time of 9:15.96. He enters the competition as the 6th seed and is hoping to improve on last year's seventh place finish. He will run in the steeplechase semifinals on Thursday evening at 8:00 p.m. with the finals scheduled for 2:20 p.m. on Saturday. Lindbloom also qualified in the 5,000 meter, but will not compete in the event.
Nick Johnson, a senior exercise science major from Huntington, Indiana (Huntington North High School), also qualified in two events, the 5,000 meter and the 10,000 meter, but he plans to just focus his attention on trying to improve on the fourth place finish he claimed in the 5,000 at Indoor Nationals this winter. He enters the outdoor competition as the 12th seed having posted a personal record time of 14:46.11 on May 8 at the Dr. Keeler Invitational. Overall, it is his third opportunity to compete on the national stage. Aside from running in the 5000 last year, he participated as a sophomore as a member of Huntington’s 4x800 relay. Johnson will compete in the semifinals of the 5,000 on Friday at 7:30 p.m. with the finals at 5:35 p.m. on Saturday.
Luke Diehl, a junior youth ministries major from Bluffton, Indiana (Norwell High School), will be making the trip to Nationals for the third consecutive year. He made his debut as a freshman running the lead leg of Huntington’s 4x800 relay. Last season, Diehl joined Lindbloom in the 3000 meter steeplechase and will do the same this year. He qualified in the event with a personal best time of 9:25:42 at the Dr. Keeler Invitational on May 8. He enters the event as the 12th seed.
Joseph Njeri, a senior sociology major from Nairobi, Kenya, is no stranger to the national event. He will be competing in the 10,000 meter run for the third time in his career with hopes of improving on last year's 20th place finish. Njeri qualified in the event at the Indiana Little State meet on April 11 with a time of 31:55.16. He will step to the line for the final as the 24th seed in the 10,000 on Thursday at 9:20 p.m.
Bethany McGraw, a junior exercise science major from Perrysburg, Ohio (Toledo Christian HS), is the seventh Forester with at least two previous years of national experience under her belt. She got her first taste of national competition as a freshman running the lead leg of Huntington's 4x400 relay. Last season she competed in the long jump. At this year’s Mid-Central Conference Championships on April 24, McGraw recorded a leap of 17-11.50 to meet qualifying standards in the long jump again. As the 26th seed in the event, she will jump on Thursday evening at 5:30 p.m. McGraw will also anchor the women's 4x400 relay that will compete in the semifinals on Friday evening at 8:15 p.m. The finals will take place on Saturday at 5:55 p.m.
Joseph Herber, a freshman business management major from Fremont, Indiana (Fremont High School), will be making his first appearance at outdoor nationals after having competed in the in the 3000 meter at Indoor Nationals this winter. Herber qualified in the 10,000 meter with a personal best time of 31:35.21 at the Keeler Invitational on May 8. He will join Njeri in Thursday evening's event as the 13th seed.
Kameron Bailey, a junior recreation management major from Columbia City, Indiana (Columbia City High School) will debut on the national stage in the 200 meter. He posted a 21.77 in the event at the Mid-Central Conference Championships on April 24 to qualify. He will toe the line for the 200 trials as the 34th seed on Thursday at 6:10 p.m. with the semifinals on Saturday at 3:30 and the finals later that day at 5:00 p.m.
Matthias Haller, a freshman biology major from Lahr, Germany, will get his introduction to national competition in the 800 meter. In his first race of the outdoor season at Virginia Military Institute, Haller ran a 1:53.90 in the event to meet qualifying standards. The 800 trials are set for 4:30 p.m. on Thursday with the semifinals schedule for Friday at 3:35 p.m. and the finals at 4:40 p.m. on Saturday. Haller enters the competition as the 40th seed.
Michelle Kyler, a junior elementary education major from Columbia City, Indiana (Columbia City High School) and Josann Schoeff, a sophomore psychology major from Huntington, Indiana (Huntington North High School) will compete in the National Championships for the first time as members of the 4x400 relay. Their qualifying time of 4:01.08 recorded at the Mid-Central Conference Championships on April 24 makes them the 33rd seed in the event.
Sean LaFontaine, a sophomore business major from Ohio City, Ohio (Crestview High School), is the 13th Forester to meet NAIA standards to compete in the National Championships. However, due to a prior commitment, he will not attend the national meet. LaFontaine ran a 55.25 in the 400 hurdles at the Mid-Central Conference Championships on April 24 to qualify.