(UGF Athletics) - UGF track & field is sending a program record tying five student-athletes to the 2016 NAIA Outdoor Track & Field Championship on May 26-28 in Golf Shores, Ala. Four of the team’s national qualifiers are female throwers, two of whom are making their second appearance at nationals. UGF also sent five individuals in 2013 and sent four individuals and a relay team to nationals in 2010.
Senior Taylor Statton is one of those two Lady Argos returning to the national scene, and may be UGF’s best chance at its first Track & Field All-American. Statton, a javelin thrower, is the only UGF athlete to not only hit the NAIA’s B Qualifier mark but also reach the NAIA’s original A Qualifier mark in her event. Her throw of 42.79m at the Trudnowski Open back on April 22 put her over 2 meters ahead of the NAIA 40.00m A Qualifier. It also makes Statton the 8-seed heading into NAIA Nationals, the highest seed of any UGF competitor. Statton finished 19th at nationals in 2015 with a top throw of 34.21m.
The top eight finishers in each event become NAIA All-American’s.
UGF’s next best chance at an All-American will come in the shot put. Two Lady Argos will compete in the event, including 5-time Frontier Conference Thrower of the Week, Daphne Puckett. Puckett came .01 meter short of the original A Qualifier mark in the shot put with a throw of 13.49m, also at the Trudnowski Open, but became an A Qualifier by being one of the top 16 throwers of the season. The sophomore is making her first trip to NAIA nationals but will travel alongside senior teammate, Ashley Thoeny who will be making her second trip to nationals.
Thoey qualified with a throw of 13.07m at the Yellowjacket/Battlin’ Bear Open on April 14. She also threw at the 2015 NAIA Outdoor Track & Field Championship, finishing in 22nd place. Puckett enters the 2016 championship as the 13-seed in the shot put, while Thoeny will be the 25-seed.
Puckett also qualified in the hammer throw, along with fellow sophomore Breanna Jones. Both will be competing in their first national championship in the event. Puckett be a 24-seed in the event with a qualifying throw of 47.66m, while Jones will be the 27-seed with a top throw of 47.37m.
The fifth national qualifier for UGF, is the only male competitor to make to nationals, Tanner Boone. The junior was the first UGF member to qualifier for nationals, qualifying for the NAIA National Marathon with a half marathon time of 1:13:50.24 in the Dum & Dummer Half Marathon on February 27. Runners are allowed to qualify for the marathon with half marathon times. This will also be Boone’s first trip to the NAIA championship.
Day 1 of competition will feature the women’s hammer at 9 a.m. MT, and the women’s javelin at 2 p.m. MT. UGF’s shot put throwers will compete on Day 2, at Noon MT while Boone will run the marathon at 5 a.m. MT (6 a.m. local) on Day 3. The entire event can be watched on the NAIA Network.