Tarleton State has sent two TexAnns to Pueblo, Colorado to compete in the 2013 Division II Outdoor Track and Field National Championships, beginning Thursday in the Neta & Eddie DeRose Thunderbowl.

Nikki McNorton returns to the national championships for the second consecutive year in hopes of once again being named an All-American while Danyelle Dillard is on her first visit to the big stage.

"We're just excited to be here," said Tarleton head coach Pat Ponder. "We've had some good practices while we've been here. I'm sure Nikki's experience will help her a lot with nerves - obviously she'll still be a little nervous, but she'll know what to expect. As for Danyelle, it'll be fun to see how she competes against some of the girls she's throwing against."

McNorton has a chance to become the first Tarleton athlete since Lacey Adkisson in 2004 to reach All-American status in multiple events - high jump and 100m Hurdles. McNorton was an All-American high jumper last year and will look to repeat that honor.

THE ROAD TO PUEBLO

Danyelle Dillard: Improved on her first NCAA provisional April 6 by launching the shot put 14.42m (47' 3.75'') at the David Noble Relays. The throw, in addition to being her second mark of the season, also broke a 19-year old school record. She is currently ranked No. 15 in the nation.

Nikki McNorton: hit the NCAA provisional mark in the 100m Hurdles four times over the course of the season but improved her standings by running a school-record 13.82 in the finals of the LSC Championship. She will be the No. 18-ranked player in the 100m Hurdles. She will also take the momentum of back-to-back first-place finishes and NCAA marks in the high jump into the championships. She won the LSC High Jump Championship with a leap of 5' 7.75'' before topping 5' 8'' in the ACU Last Chance meet to earn the No. 12 ranking in the women's high jump.

LAST TIME OUT

Both TexAnns, along with Kallie Johanson, traveled to the Oliver Jackson Twilight meet at Abilene Christian University in hopes to improve their standings in the nation. Dillard won the event but didn't top her previous mark while McNorton leaped a season-best 5' 8'' in the high jump to move up to No. 12 in the nation in the event.

KEY STORYLINES

Going for gold… "Her mindset in the high jump is to just get back on the podium," said Ponder. "In talking to her, you can tell she's really excited about the chance to get back there. The competition is pretty stiff, but she's excited about the possibility."

McNorton looking for top honors in multiple sports… "She's going to have to run a clean race, that's for sure," said Ponder. "She's sitting in lane eight and that could be good for her. It is a wide track with wide lanes, and with her being a power hurdler, it could really help. I can promise you this, though, she's going to attack it. That's her personality. She'll give you everything she's got and then some. She stands a good chance to finish at the top of her heat."

Dillard's first national appearance… "Danyelle had a really good practice yesterday," said Ponder. "She feels good about herself. She just needs to control her nerves and not get too excited. If she does that, she'll be fine."