Runners blaze trail to nationals

For the first time in school history the Sam Houston State track and field team will take more than one athlete to the NCAA National Track and Field Championships to be held in Sacramento, Calif. beginning June 11. Sprinter Chris Stewart and hurdler Adrian Ray both finished high enough at the regional meet to receive automatic bids and sprinter Adam Wooten and javelin thrower James Thomas both received at-large bids.”We are very excited and proud to be able to take the largest contingent ever from Sam Houston State to the NCAA Championships,” SHSU track and field head coach Greg Hinze said. “One thing is for certain, we’re not going out there just to be there. We’ve had a great year so far, but we’re not done yet. I feel that all four of the individuals we are taking have the capability to become All-Americans.” Ray finished third in the 110-meter hurdles at regionals with a time of 13.86 and Stewart came in fifth in the 200-meter dash with a new school record time of 20.40. The top five finishers at the regional meet automatically qualified for nationals. Wooten’s 200-meter time of 20.56 was good enough to place seventh and earn an at-large bid. Both Wooten and Stewart received at-large bids in the 100-meter dash at nationals, but Coach Hinze feels that they would have a better showing running in just one event.”They run three rounds in the sprints at the NCAA meet, and that meant that they would have to possibly run six rounds of sprints (if they were in the 100 as well),” Hinze said. “After what we have put them through at the conference and regional meets, we just felt like that was too much.”Thomas’ javelin throw of 66.89-meters earned him an eighth place finish at the regional meet. The distance ranks 20th in the country and earned Thomas the at-large bid to nationals. Stewart and Wooten are currently ranked fifth and sixth respectively in the country in the 200 and Ray is 13th in the 110 hurdles. Even though the Bearkats are only taking four competitors, a strong showing at the national meet could help the Kats finish in the top 25 in the country when the dust settles.”Our goal going into this meet is to come home with four All-Americans and score as many points as we can,” Hinze said. “Points are at a premium at such a high-caliber meet, but our team all along has been high on quality. With these four guys, we have the potential to score a decent number of points, so a secondary goal of ours is to finish in the top 25 and end the year in the national top 25.”

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