Preview: 2014 Menís & Womenís Indoor Track and Field National Championships
By: Chad Waller, NAIA Director of Communications & Sports Information
GENEVA, Ohio – (Live Scoring) (Press Book) Oklahoma Baptist will defend its men's and women's team titles at the 49th annual men’s and 33rd annual women’s National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) Indoor Track and Field National Championships. The event runs from Thursday through Saturday in Geneva, Ohio, at the SPIRE Institute Track and Field Sports Complex. Over 130 men’s and women’s programs will compete as action begins at 1 p.m. EST Thursday with the women’s pentathlon and the men’s heptathlon at 1:30 p.m.
All of the national championship action will be video-streamed live. For more information, click here.
Forty-two events are scheduled over the three-day span. The Women's 5,000-meter relays will kick off the track portion of events at 4 p.m. Thursday. On Friday, the heptathlon begins the day at 10 a.m., followed by the running and field events at noon. The National Championship ceremony, which honors eligible team’s Champions of Character individual awards and the Buffalo Funds Five Star Champions of Character team awards, starts off Saturday at noon.
The national champions and award winners will be recognized Saturday at approximately 4:30 p.m. The top eight athletes in each event and top four relay teams will each earn team points and achieve NAIA All-America status.
Oklahoma Baptist swept the team titles in 2013 by large margins -- the women were a 26-point winner over second-place Indiana Tech and the men's squad edged out Wayland Baptist (Texas) by 16.5 points. The Sooner Athletic Conference institution became the fifth different school in NAIA history and first since former member Azusa Pacific (Calif.) in 2004 to win both team titles in the same year.
The Bison women tied Wayland Baptist for the most all-time championships with their fifth last year. Oklahoma Baptist has gathered all five of its rings since 2005. Sophomore Akela Jones, the returning Most Valuable Performer, qualified for seven events. She is ranked No. 1 in the pentathlon, high jump, long jump and 60-meter hurdles. Jones is joined by senior Jura Levy, who carries four overall individual titles into this year's event (60-meters and 200-meters).
Senior Hillary Holt of College of Idaho returns after she earned the 2013 Women's Outstanding Performer honor. She was top medalist in the Mile Run (4:49.49), 3,000-meter run (10:00.73) and was the anchor of the championship-winning distance medley team (12:04.06). She holds the top times this year in the Mile Run (4:37.96) and is second in the 800-meters (2:13.95).
2013 second-place finisher Indiana Tech sends a solid core of student-athletes topping all schools with 30. Concordia (Ore.), Doane (Neb.) and College of Idaho all finished Nos. 3 - 5, respectively, in last year's event.
Senior Adam Godwin leads the Oklahoma Baptist men into the 2014 championship. Last year, Godwin gathered the Most Valuable Performer hardware after he won the Mile Run (4:10.84) for the second-straight year and the 3,000-meters (8:22.26). The Bison are trying to repeat for the first time in school history and become the first NAIA program to win back-to-back titles since Azusa Pacific did a four-peat (2007-10).
National runner-up Wayland Baptist sends 13 student-athletes to Geneva and the program is looking for its seventh all-time national championship. The most team titles in NAIA history is owned by Azusa Pacific with eight. The rest of the top-five team finishers last year are back: third-place Indiana Tech, No. 4 Siena Heights (Mich.) and No. 5 Doane.
Geneva is the fifth different city to host this event, which began in 1966 with men’s competition. Nineteen men’s programs have claimed at least one team championship, with 12 of those holding multiple crowns. Four of those schools are current NAIA institutions. On the women’s side, 13 different programs have won a national championship, with five of those being active NAIA schools. Nine programs boast at least two titles, led by the five earned from Wayland Baptist and Oklahoma Baptist.
For complete information on the national championships, click here for the men and here for the women.