May 22 2014 ISN – VANCOUVER – The UBC Thunderbirds track and field team is in Gulf Shores, Ala. for the NAIA Men’s and Women’s Outdoor Track and Field National Championships. The three-day event begins Thursday, May 22 and runs through Saturday, May 24. Twenty-eight athletes will represent UBC, battling it out with competitors from over 150 men’s and women’s programs from across North America in 71 different events.
On the men’s side, UBC is led by reigning NAIA 1500-metre champion Luc Bruchet. The Bus Phillips Memorial Trophy winner as UBC’s outstanding male athlete this season, Bruchet is the top qualifier in the 1500m heading into this year’s championships. He will also be part of UBC’s 4x800m relay entry. Other Thunderbirds on the track include Jesse Hooton(10,000m), Lukas Jarron (800m, 4x800m relay), Justin Kent (3000m steeplechase, 4x800m relay), Devin Rajala (4x800m relay), and Jack Williams (1500m, 4x800m relay).
Another medal hopeful is Andy White in the javelin. He looks to better his second place finish from a year ago. Connor Smith will also be competing in the javelin.
Two-time NAIA silver medalist in the 1500m, Maria Bernard leads a stacked UBC women’s team featuring 20 athletes. Bernard is stepping up in distance in 2014 running in both the 3000m steeplechase and 5000m. She is the top qualifier in both events. Like Bernard, Devan Wiebe is hoping to bring home an individual medal for a third straight year. She is a two-time bronze medalist in the 800m. Wiebe will also run the 4x400m relay and the 4x800m relay, a race in which the Thunderbirds are the defending NAIA Champions.
Amelie de Fenoyl, a sliver medalist in the 5000m in 2013, will challenge for the top of the podium once again in 2014. She also will race the 10,000m event.
Kaylee Beales is the other returning medalist from last year, she finished third in the marathon. She will be joined by Madison McCarthy, Jennifer McCormack, and Alix Thomsonin this year’s race.
Also competing on the track for UBC are Stephanie Dacre (800m, 4x400m relay, 4x800m relay), Rhiannon Evans (1500m, 4x400m relay, 4x800m relay), Catharine Farish(1500m, 4x800m relay), Micha Gutmanis (3000m steeplechase), Tamara Harris (800m, 4x400m relay, 4x800m relay), Natalia Hawthorn (1500m, 4x800m relay), Sarah Korpach(400m hurdles, 4x400m relay), Kirsten Lee (5000m), Jackie Regan (5000m, 10,000m), Joy Spear Chief-Morris (100m, 200m), and Katherine Tourigny (4x400m relay).
In the field events Christine Ausman will contend in the javelin, while Julia Hawkins will compete in the triple jump, as well as the 4x400m relay.
Indiana Tech swept the men’s and women’s side in 2013. It was the first national championship for either team in school history. Oklahoma Baptist also returns, after finishing second on the men’s and women’s side last year.
Gulf Shores, Ala. is the 22nd different city to host the championship event, which began in 1952 with men’s competition. Twenty-five different teams have won at least one team national championship. Four teams have claimed at least four titles, led by former member Azusa Pacific with 15 total championships. On the women’s side, 14 different programs have won a national championship. Two schools have at least five championships, with former member Prairie View A&M leading the way with nine titles.