Five McNeese athletes qualify for NCAA East Preliminaries

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LAKE CHARLES – Southland Conference gold medalists distance runners Nathan Jones and Christoph Graf, javelin silver medalists Donavon Banks and Morgan Woods along with sprinter Tyler Smith have all qualified for next week’s NCAA East Preliminary Round Track and Field Championships in Lexington, Ky., the NCAA announced on Thursday.

Competition begins next Thursday and wraps up next Saturday evening. The East region essentially includes all Division I programs east of, or near, the Mississippi River. Southland Conference members from Texas who have qualifiers compete in the West regional.

Jones won the gold medal in both the 5,000 and 10,000-meter races at the SLC outdoor championships last week and will compete in the 10k event in Kentucky. He’ll enter the meet ranked 29th in the region in the event with a time of 29:33.82, a mark he set on March 31 at the San Francisco State Distance Carnival.

Graf took first place in the 3,000-meter steeplechase despite tripping over the first barrier of the final lap and fracturing both arms in the process. He was able to get himself up and finish off the race to win the gold medal with a time of 8:56.47. Graf is ranked 15th in the region in the steeplechase with a top time of 8:49.42, a McNeese school record, clocked at the LSU Alumni Gold meet on April 22.

Graf is expected to compete in the event even with his injuries.

Smith will run in the 100-meter dash where his is ranked 33rd in the region with a time of 10.50. He clocked that personal best time at the SLC championships where he placed fourth in the event.

Banks will compete in the javelin event at the preliminaries for the second consecutive year. The sophomore is ranked 14th in the region in the event after tossing personal record mark of 229-0 for a second place finish at the SLC championships.

Woods also won a silver medal in the women’s javelin throw at the conference meet and will enter the preliminary round ranked 33rd in the region with a distance of 154-0, a personal record mark she threw at the SLC meet.

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Matthew Bonnette

Matthew Bonnette

Assistant Athletic Director for Sports Information, McNeese State

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