Set for prime time: DSU looks to cap solid season at NAIA National Championships
As the Dickinson State 2012-13 sports calendar year comes to a close, the Blue Hawks' track and field team still has to take care of business.
DSU gets to work today at the NAIA outdoor national championships in Marion, Ind. The men's side has a slew of national title contenders and a total of 14 competing.
"It's something we've been looking forward to on both the men's and women's side," DSU coach Pete Stanton said about nationals.
Fredrick Agbaje is nationally ranked Nos. 1 and 2 in the 100 and 200 meters with season-best times of 10.16 and 21.02 seconds, respectively. Teammate Breyan Miller ranks right behind Agbaje at No. 2 in the 100 (10.32).
Needless to say, expectations are high in the men's 100 and 200.
"Those two have put together remarkable seasons," Stanton said of Agbaje and Miller. "We certainly feel like if they run like they're capable, they both have a chance to not only be in the finals, but garner all-American (honors)."
Freshman distance runner Dante Carter will compete as a dark horse in the 1,500 and 800 meters. He goes in ranked Nos. 8 (3:49.98) and 11 (1:52.20), respectively. The freshman from Las Vegas won the 1,000 meters at the NAIA indoor championships.
Agbaje, Miller, Nathan Magstadt and Jon Dinius go into nationals ranked No. 2 in the 400 relay (40.94). The foursome is a strong contender for the national title.
"We know they have a great opportunity, but there's no givens," Stanton said. "It's a situation to where you have to execute. Nobody's going to hand anything to us."
Magstadt, a junior from Dickinson, is a two-time all-American and will also compete in both the 110 and 400 hurdles.
"We have a nice group of men," Stanton said. "We also believe the group, if capable of performing like they can, we're capable of coming out of there with several all-Americans."
The 3,200 relay team of Carter, Dustin Sandbak, Delano Lilly and Chris Gill will race as well.
On the women's side, only senior Kim Schulz and junior Hailey Schaper qualified for nationals in the javelin throw and high jump, respectively.
Each has qualified for nationals in their respective events every one of their seasons at DSU.
Hailey Schaper, a Killdeer native, is hoping the third time is the charm for a high jump national championship.
"It's good competition to make it every year. I get excited about it," said Schaper, who has a personal-best jump of 5 feet, 7¾ inches. "I'm not overconfident, but we'll see where it goes."
Schaper has been hampered by a nagging sore right ankle this season. The nursing major has nursed her jumping ankle by practicing light for two weeks preparing for nationals, so she doesn't put too much strain it.
"It's been kind of aching all season," Schaper said.
At nationals, Schaper hopes to clear the bar in her first attempts in each round with a chance to jump her way into the finals.
Schaper's best height in the high jump this season is 5-6. She's definitely looking to end the season on a high note at nationals.
"You always want to do better than last year," Schaper said. "It's important to me to finish strong."