STEPHENVILLE - The accepted entries for the 2015 NCAA Division II outdoor track and field championships in Allendale, Michigan were announced Tuesday afternoon with 14 Tarleton State athletes selected to participate for a chance to be a national champion.
This is the largest group of athletes to qualify for the NCAA championships under the guidance of Tarleton head coach Pat Ponder and assistant track coach Justin Hobbs after sending a then school-record nine athletes to last years championships.
Competing in the 200m for the TexAnns will be freshman DeAijha Hicks-Boyce. Boyce punched her ticket to national in a second-place finish at the Lone Star Conference championships clocking a qualifying time of 24.21 that enters the NCAA meet ranked No. 21. Hicks-Boyce is the first TexAnn to compete in the 200m since school record holder Derekia Coleman competed in the 2011 NCAA meet.
The 400m prelims will see true freshman Terrance Gross back into the blocks hoping to better his qualifying time of 47.38 that was recorded in a second-place finish at the LSC championships Saturday. Gross enters the NCAA meet ranked No. 16. This is the second-straight year a Texan runner will compete in the 400m following an appearance in the 400m at last years championships for Cameron Krc.
The final athlete to compete in an individual running event will be three time All-American Chase Rathke. The defending national champion, and school record holder, will look to defend his title in the 1500m entering the NCAA meet with a qualifying time of 3:46.08 that was recorded in a meet winning effort at the 2015 Mt. SAC relays in California earlier this season. Rathke is ranked No. 6 in a field of 19 athletes.
In the field Euphemia Edem, Davene Carter, and Kenny Odunaiya will represent the purple and white.
Euphemia Edem, who seemed to set a record every time she touched the track, will compete in both the long and triple jump for the TexAnns. Edem enters the NCAA meet ranked No. 1 in both events boasting qualifying marks of 6.44m (21-01.5) in the long jump and 13.22m (43-04.5) in the triple jump - both Tarleton State school records.
Basketball and track & field dual-sport athlete Davene Carter will make a second appear at the NCAA meet after competing in the 2013 championships in the high jump. Carter enters the NCAA meet after clearing a career best 2.14m (7-00.25) at the LSC meet Saturday. The senior out of Duncanville enters the meet No. 8 in a field of 20 jumpers.
The final qualifier in the field events for Tarleton is Kenny Odunaiya. Odunaiya will compete in the shot put where he currently is ranked No. 15 with a season-best throw of 17.36m (56-11.5) recorded in a first-place finish at the Joe Gillespie Tri-Meet in Stephenville back on April 11.
Tarleton will field three relays at the NCAA championships - two (2) mile-relays along with the TexAnn sprint-relay.
The Texan 4x400m relay will be the second event for Terrance Gross who will compete in the 1600m race along side teammates Cameron Krc, Clarencio Guerrero, and Gilson Umunnakwe. The foursome of Gross, Krc, Gurerro, and Umunnakwe enter the meet ranked No.1 in the nation entering the meet with an automatic qualifying time of 3:08.53 recorded in a first-place finish at the Lone Star Conference championships Saturday, resetting the school record of 3:09.17 set last year in a sixth-place finish at the NCAA championships.
The TexAnns will field a 4x400m relay at the NCAA meet for the first time since 2005 when the squad of Courtney Pleasant, Amy Mills, Deba Egbon, and Dorinda Harris finished the season as All-Americans. The group of LaDaria Nelson, DeAijha Hicks-Boyce, Leslie Zupanic, and Jasmine Owens - who broke the school record of Pleasant, Mills, Egbon, and Harris - enter the meet ranked No. 7 with a season best time of 3:42.15 recorded in a second-place finish at the Lone Star Conference meet Saturday.
DeAijha Hicks-Boyce will also be competing as a member of the TexAnn sprint relay that enters the meet ranked No. 8 in the nation. The group of Hicks-Boyce, Edem - who is already qualified in the long and triple -, Deylinn Garrett, and Hollie Boyd will take the track in prelims sporting a season best time of 45.91 set in a second-place finish at the Lone Star Conference meet Saturday.
Tarleton will enter the meet on a positive note fielding one of the best teams in school history, fielding 12 athletes that are school records holders in six different events.
The NCAA Division II outdoor track and field championships will take place on the campus of Grand Valley State University in Allendale, Michigan May 21-23.