Preview: Indoor Track and Field National Champs
By Chad Waller, NAIA Director of Communications & Sports Information
GENEVA, Ohio - (Live Scoring) The 48th annual men's and 33rd annual women's National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) Indoor Track and Field National Championships will bring in over 130 men's and women's programs to Geneva, Ohio, from Feb. 28 - March 2. The SPIRE Institute Track and Field Sports Complex will host the event for the third-consecutive year. The national championships begin at 1 p.m. EST Thursday with the women's pentathlon and the men's heptathlon at 1:30 p.m.
For the first time in its history, all the national championship action will be video-streamed live and free. For more information, click here.
Forty-two events are scheduled over the three-day span. 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 events at Noon and the field events at 1 p.m. 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 at approximately 4:30 p.m., Saturday. The top six athletes in each event and top four relay teams will earn team points and achieve NAIA All-America status.
The top returning women's team is Oklahoma Baptist, who finished second last year a mere ½ point behind the national champion. The Bison are gunning for their fifth overall national championship, as they have won four since 2005. The five hardwares would tie Wayland Baptist (Texas) for the most team titles in the 33-year women's history.
Oklahoma Baptist's Jura Levy is the reigning Championship Outstanding Performer. Last year, the senior from Trelawny, Jamaica, set the national championship record in the 200-meters (23.03) and was part of the record-breaking effort in the 4x400-meter relay (3:39.83). She is seeded first this year in the 60 and 200-meters, and part of the 2nd-ranked 4x400-meter relay team.
A team to finish third last year, Wayland Baptist, looks to win its first team title since 2009. Southern-New Orleans (La.) is the only other program with multiple team national championships participating in this year's championship.
On the men's side, defending national champion Wayland Baptist returns after winning the 2012 crown in decisive fashion. The Pioneers posted the most points (108) by a men's team since 1995 and recorded the largest margin of victory (36) since Wayland Baptist won the title in 1989. 2012 Coach of the Year Rohan Thompson brings nineteen Pioneers to the competition, led by juniors Dewayne Booker and Durawn Howard. Both athletes are ranked No. 1 in two separate events.
Concordia (Ore.), Oklahoma Baptist and Hastings (Neb.) travel back to Geneva after top-five finishes last year. All three programs are searching for their first team national championship.
Geneva is the fifth different city to host this event, which began in 1966 with men's competition. Eightenn men's programs have claimed at least one team championship, with 12 of those holding multiple crowns. Three 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.
For complete information on the national championships, click here for the men and here for the women.