Athletes head to national meets

13 athletes will compete this weekend at different NCAA qualifying meets.

Now that the Mid-American Conference championships have been decided, the focus of indoor track and field shifts from team success to personal achievement.

This weekend, 13 Ball State athletes will head to three different meets in hopes of qualifying for or improving their positions in the NCAA championships.

Friday senior thrower Zach Riley will be in New York City to compete in the U.S.A. Nationals, a meet that boasts the best athletes in the country.

"This is a meet with Olympic-level athletes," men's head coach Jim Sprecher said. "That will be a great experience for him to be on that stage."

In the weight throw, Riley is currently ranked seventh among collegiate athletes.

Junior distance runner Katie Nowak will be the lone Ball State woman at the Alex Wilson Invitational in South Bend. She will compete in the 5,000-meter run. Nowak won the 5,000 in last week's MAC championships, and will try to improve on that time this weekend.

Seven members of the men's team will be heading to Notre Dame to participate in the invitational. Senior Matt Bliss will be running in the mile. Bliss placed fourth in that event at the MAC championships and is closing in on the NCAA provisional mark.

Senior Corey Eloms will be competing in the 60-meter dash and the long jump. Eloms is only four inches away from qualifying in the long jump. Hurdler Wil James will run the 60-meter hurdles. The senior is only seven hundredths of a second away from qualification.

"I've still got my best races ahead of me," he said. "Now I just have to focus on technical things in the race."

The final four men to be traveling is the 1600-meter relay team of Scott Allen, Patrick Bush, Shannon Grady, and Chad Asprooth. They are not going for a provisional mark, but rather a Ball State school record. They are less than one second away from the mark.

The remaining four women will compete at the Cyclone Qualifier in Ames, Iowa. The group will include freshman Ashley Gillies in the high jump, Patricia Soman in the long jump and triple jump, Natasha Lothery in the 800-meter run, and Janee Langhorne in the weight throw. All of these athletes have reached the NCAA provisional mark, but are looking to improve their ranking.

"The only pressure is what we put on ourselves," Langhorne said. "I'm very confident because I've made the throw before."


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