May 23, 2014 ISN -VANCOUVER – The UBC Thunderbirds women’s track and field team will take a slim one-point lead into the final day of competition at the 2014 NAIA Outdoor Track and Field Championships in Gulf Shores, Ala. thanks to its 4×800-metre relay squad.

The relay team of Tamara HarrisRhiannon EvansCatharine Farish and Devan Wiebe repeated as NAIA champions, winning in a time of eight minutes and 53.55 seconds. UBC dominated in its defence of the national title, finishing more than 11 seconds ahead of second place Dordt (Iowa).

The Thunderbirds have 33 points after two days at the NAIA meet, one ahead of Cornerstone of Grand Rapids, Mich. Defending champion Indiana Tech, currently in fifth with 21 points, will make a big charge tomorrow as its strength is in the sprint events, all of which will be run on Saturday.

The men’s 4x800m team almost made it double gold for UBC as the T-Birds, comprised of Luc BruchetJack WilliamsLukas Jarron and Justin Kent, finished second in 7:31.55, beaten out at the line by winners Indiana Tech (7:31.12).

The UBC men have earned 16 points in the team standings and sit in a tie for fourth place with Wiley (Texas).

In the other final involving a UBC athlete today, West Vancouver’s Julia Hawkins placed 23rd in the women’s triple jump with a best attempt of 10.83 metres.

The Thunderbirds enjoyed success again in the preliminary races today, ensuring a slew of athletes will compete for a national championship in their respective events on Saturday.

In the women’s 800 metres, Wiebe won her heat by crossing the finish line in 2:11.61. Teammate Harris was in the same race and qualified for the final with a time of 2:11.90. Stephanie Dacre was in the first heat but her mark of 2:14.55 didn’t advance her to the next round.

Sprinter Joy Spear Chief-Morris earned a spot in the final of the women’s 100-metre dash after placing seventh in the preliminaries with a time of 11.88 seconds.

Maria Bernard topped all competitors by running her 5,000m-qualification race in 18:02.16

Teammates Amelie de Fenoyl (18:04.12) and Jackie Regan (18:14.75) also earned spots in the 16-woman event final on Saturday by placing ninth and 10th respectively. Kirsten Lee just missed out, as she was 19th (18:29.81).

UBC’s 4x400m relay team went 3:54.89 and finished seventh in its heat.

On the men’s side, freshman Jarron clocked a 1:55.03 in his 800m race on Friday, placing sixth in his section.

Fourteen women and three men will compete for the Thunderbirds on the final day of the NAIA Outdoor Track and Field Championships in Gulf Shores, Ala.

Every race on Saturday will be a final and the day will begin with the marathon at 4 a.m. Pacific time, with four UBC runners, Kaylee BealesMadison McCarthyJennifer McCormack and Alix Thomson, in the women’s field.

At 12 noon Pacific, Bernard and Micha Gutmanis will race in the women’s 3,000m steeplechase followed byJustin Kent in the men’s event.

At 1 p.m., Evans, Farish and Natalia Hawthorn will all compete in the women’s 1,500.

Then, Luc Bruchet will try to defend the men’s 1,500 title he won last year in Marion, Ind. TeammateJack Williams will also contend for the national championship in the same race.

Spear Chief-Morris will take part in the women’s 100m dash at 1:50 p.m. and the 200m at 3:10 p.m.

The women’s 800m at 2:50 p.m. will feature Wiebe and Harris, while Bernard, de Fenoyl and Regan will vie for the NAIA banner in the 5000m at 3:30 p.m.