CEDAR CITY, Utah - May 27 - Southern Utah University track & field will be represented by eight student-athletes in nine events this week when the Thunderbirds compete in the first round of the NCAA Championship in Fayetteville, Ark. The competition will set the stage for a spot in the national championships with a top 12 finish.
Kayla Kovar will be the lone competitor on the women’s side for the T-Birds, but the senior is slated to appear in the shot put, discus and hammer throw. Kovar is currently ranked in the top 10 of the Western Region in both the shot (10th) and hammer (2nd) and in the top 20 of the region in the discus (17th).
Southern Utah will be represented in the field events by Jayson Kovar and Russ Nielson on the men’s side in the discus and javelin, respectively. Kovar qualified by way of a 180 feet 9 inch toss in March. Nielson came up big at the Big Sky Conference outdoor track & field championships, throwing career-best and first-place mark of 204 feet nine inches to punch his ticket to the NCAA postseason.
On the track, Shaun Murray and Preston Myers both qualified in the 100-meters. Murray will enter the competition ranked No. 22 and Myers picked up the final qualification spot, coming in ranked No. 48 in the West.
Eric Sandall is the only middle distance qualifier for the T-Birds in 2014, taking part in the men’s 800-meters after having run a 1:50.10 in the event at the San Francisco State Distance Carnival in early April.
Ryan Barrus and Nate Jewkes will take part in the distance events with qualifying marks in the 5k and 10k, respectively. Barrus has already made a nationals appearance this season, running in the cross country championships in the fall. Jewkes will be looking for his second consecutive trip to the national championships in the 10k, having qualified in 2013.
“Everyone of these athletes that have qualified have a great shot of advancing to the next round of the championships,” head coach Eric Houle said. “Just to get to this round is a major pat on the back for these athletes, knowing that out of everyone in the nation that competes in this sport, you are one of the best.”