By Nikki Sherrill, Athletic Communications and Media Intern
GULF SHORES, Ala. – (Live Video) (Live Scoring) (Schedule) The 66th annual Men's and 37th annual Women's National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) Outdoor Track and Field National Championships will take place in Gulf Shores, Ala., and run from May 25 – 27. The Gulf Shores (Ala.) and Orange Beach Sports Commission, in partnership with the city in Gulf Shores, will serve as hosts for the fourth-straight year. Mickey Miller Blackwell Stadium will be the home for the three days for the student-athletes.
Stretch Internet, the NAIA's official video-streaming company of NAIA national championship events, will be broadcasting the events on www.NAIANetwork.com. A subscription package to view the entire three-day event is $14.95. For more information, including how to register and sign-up for an account, click here.
Seventy-one events will take place over the three-day span. The national championships begin at 10 a.m. CDT Thursday with the men's decathlon (100-meters, Long Jump, Shot Put, High Jump, 400-meters) and women's hammer throw. The women's heptathlon (100-meter hurdles, High Jump, Shot Put, 200-meters) will begin at 10:30 a.m.
The championship opening ceremonies are scheduled for 2 p.m. on Thursday, while the awards ceremony will be Saturday at approximately 6:50 p.m. The top eight athletes in each event and top eight relay teams will earn team points and achieve NAIA ASICS All-America status.
On the men's side, Indiana Tech is looking to capture its fourth title in five seasons after stealing the red banner with 86 team points last year. With 31 athletes being sent to Gulf Shores, the Warriors hope to bring back even more titles this season. In 2016, Indiana Tech won five titles including the 4x100 meter relay, 4x400 meter relay, 200 meter, high jump, and 400 meters. The Warriors bring back three athletes who won a national championship last season with Trevor Stanley, Wayne Sharbahn and Gairy Springer all back for a chance to add another title to their name. Stanley ranks No. 1 in the men's 110 meter hurdle, while the men's 4x800 team also is the top program in the field.
The 2016 national runner-up on the men's side, Concordia (Neb.), looks to be back at the top of the podium after qualifying 14 student-athletes. Zach Lurz, who won the men's shot put last season, hopes to repeat as the national champion in that event.
Behind Indiana Tech which qualified a field-high 31 student-athletes, two other program bring a high number of competitors to Gulf Shores as well. Twenty student-athletes from British Columbia are welcomed onto the qualifying list, while Doane (Neb.) captured 19 spots. Sophomore Samantha Liermann leads the women's shot put qualifiers ranking No. 1 as the only top qualifier for the Bulldogs this season.
The Indiana Tech women, who were close to a 2016 national title, qualify a field-high 28 student-athletes. The Warriors own the No. 1 spot in the 4x100 meter relay with senior Brianna Woods also coming in at No. 1 in the 100 meter dash field. Doane qualified the next-highest amount of student-athletes with 21, while Aquinas (Mich.) and Concordia bring in 19.
Gulf Shores, Ala., is the 22nd different city to host the championship event, which began in 1952 with men's competition. Twenty-six different men's teams have won at least one team national championship. Four teams have claimed at least four titles, led by former member Azusa Pacific with 15 total championships. On the women's side, 15 different programs have won a national championship. Nine schools have at least a pair of championships, with former member Prairie View A&M (Texas) leading the way with nine titles.
For more information on the 2017 NAIA Men's & Women's Outdoor Track & Field National Championships, click here.