Seven Huntington University track and field athletes will compete in the NAIA Indoor Track and Field National Championships being held March 5-7, 2009, in Johnson City, Tenn. Five of the seven athletes, including seniors Lucas Beach, Nick Johnson, Dan Lindbloom and Joseph Njeri and junior Bethany McGraw, are making return appearances at the national event while freshmen Matthias Haller and Joseph Herber will be making their debut. All seven of the athletes met qualifying standards set by the NAIA (National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics) at the beginning of the season in their respective events.
Lucas Beach, a senior Bible and religion and physical education double major from Lucerne, Ind. (Pioneer High School), returns looking to earn Indoor All-America honors for the third time. Beach finished fifth in the event as a freshman in 2006 and was sixth as a sophomore. He qualified to compete in the shot put again this year on February 20 at the Grand Rapids Championships with his toss of 54-09. Beach, who seeded third in the event, is slated to throw on Saturday at 1:00 p.m.
Nick Johnson, a senior exercise science major from Huntington, Ind. (Huntington North High School), earned his fourth consecutive opportunity to compete in the national indoor event. He qualified in the 5000 meter race at the DePauw Indoor Invitational by posting a time of 14:59.58 on February 14. Johnson is seeded ninth in the event and will be vying for a top six finish and his first NAIA Track All-America honor. Johnson will run in the semi-final round of the 5000 meter race at 7:20 p.m. on Friday with the finals on Saturday at 3:10 p.m.
Dan Lindbloom, a senior exercise science major from Evergreen Park, Ill. (Chicago Christian High School), is making his third appearance in the 3000 meter run. Last year, he had a strong showing finishing 11th in the event. This season, he met qualification standards with the 8:45.33 time he posted at the DePauw Indoor Invitational on February 14. As the 25th seed, Lindbloom will toe the line for the semifinals of the 3000 on Friday at 5:45 p.m. with the finals set for 2:20 p.m. on Saturday.
Joseph Njeri, a senior sociology major from Nairobi, Kenya, returns to the Indoor Championships for the third time to again compete in the 5000 meter run. He is looking to improve on his 28th-place finish from a year ago. Njeri met the NAIA’s qualification standard in the event on February 20 at the Grand Rapids Championships with a time of 15:21.78. Njeri, the 33rd seed in the 5000, will join Johnson in the semifinal at 7:20 p.m. on Friday with the finals on Saturday at 3:10 p.m.
Bethany McGraw, a junior exercise science major from Perrysburg, Ohio (Toledo Christian High School), is making her third appearance at Indoor Nationals in the long jump. McGraw will be looking to improve on last year’s ninth place finish. This year she met qualifying standards with a leap of 17-06 in Huntington’s Frozen Forest Invitational on January 10 and she enters the competition as the 29th seed. The long jump competition is scheduled for 2:45 p.m. on Friday.
Matthias Haller, a freshman biology major from Lahr, Germany, is a first-time qualifier. Haller will get his introduction to national indoor competition in the 800 meter run. He met qualification standards with the 1:54.94 time he turned in at the Grand Rapids Championships on February 20 and enters the competition as the 21st seed. He will race in the semifinals at 4:30 p.m. on Friday with the finals set for 1:35 p.m. on Saturday.
Joseph Herber, a freshman business management major from Fremont, Ind. (Fremont High School), is making his debut on the national level in the 3000 meter event. He qualified to compete with his time of 8:49.00 which he set at the DePauw University Invitational on February 14. Herber will join Lindbloom 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.