Story by: Chad Waller | NAIA Director of Communications & Sports Information
JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. – (Live Scoring) (Schedule) The 51st annual men's and 35th annual women's National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) Indoor Track and Field National Championships will begin Thursday in Johnson City, Tenn. For the first time since 2010 and 11th time overall, the event takes place at the David E. Walker Track. This venue played host from 2001-10 before heading to Geneva, Ohio, for the past five years. Over 130 men's and women's programs will compete as action begins at 1 p.m. EST Thursday with the women's pentathlon and the men's heptathlon at 1:30 p.m.
All of the national championship action will be video-streamed live on NAIANetwork.com, the NAIA's official video-streaming platform provided by Stretch Internet. Fans will have a chance to watch up to four HD-quality live channels for a subscription fee. For more information, click here.
Sixty-eight events are scheduled over the three-day span. The Women's 5,000-meter semifinals will kick off the track portion of events at 4 p.m. Thursday with six other semifinals and prelim events to follow. On Friday, the heptathlon begins the day at 10 a.m., followed by the running and field events at noon. The National Championship ceremony, which honors eligible team's Champions of Character individual awards and the Buffalo Funds Five Star Champions of Character Team Award, starts off Saturday at noon.
The national champions and award winners will be recognized Saturday at approximately 5:30 p.m. The top eight athletes in each event and top eight relay teams will each earn team points and achieve ASICS-NAIA All-America status. Those awards will be announced on Monday, March 7.
On the women's side, we are guaranteed a new champion for the first time since 2009. Former members Oklahoma Baptist and Azusa Pacific (Calif.) were the two programs to dominate the women's sport in the last six years. With 25 individuals, Indiana Tech has the most activity amongst all events. Freshman Sarah Dunmore (60-meters) and sophomore Tia Holmes (Long Jump) are the only Warriors to be ranked No. 1 in their respective events. As a team, the Warriors took home national runner-up finishes in each of the past three seasons.
The last current NAIA program to win the national championship was Wayland Baptist (Texas) in 2009. The Pioneers are looking to add to their total of five titles, which is two shy of the all-time record. Senior Alexis Browner (200-meters; 4x400-meter relays) and sophomore Monique McPherson (600-meters; 4x400-meter relays) are both ranked first in two of their events. Browner is the reigning national champion in the 60-meters (7.49) and 200-meters (23.39).
The Aquinas (Mich.) women trails only Indiana Tech for the most individuals participating in Johnson City with 21. Doane (Neb.) is the other program with 20-or-more athletes, as the Tigers send 20 this weekend.
In the 34-year history of the women's championship, there have been 13 institutions to hoist the red banner. Nine of those programs have multiple championships to their credit.
Two-time men's defending national champion Indiana Tech is back with 23 individuals competing in 13 different events. In four events – including relays – there are four individuals ranked No. 1, including senior John Broaden in the 200-meters and 4x400-meter relay team. The Warriors are looking to become the first program to three-peat since Azusa Pacific rattled off four-straight titles from 2007-10. Head coach Doug Edgar is a two-time NAIA Coach of the Year.
Wayland Baptist has finished in first or second place in each of the past six years. The Pioneers are searching for their record-tying eighth red banner, which would tie Azusa Pacific for the all-time championship mark. The last championship year for Wayland Baptist was 2012. Twelve individuals will compete in Johnson City, headlined by senior Kabroderan Handsborough, who is ranked No. 1 in the 60-meters, No. 2 in the 4x400-meter relays and No. 3 in the 200-meters. Handsborough was part of a 4x400-meter relay team last year to break the championship record (3:09.39).
Trailing Indiana Tech for most participants on the men's side: Doane (19), Siena Heights (Mich.) (19), Concordia (Neb.) (17), and Marian (Ind.) (17).
Nineteen men's programs have claimed at least one team championship, with 14 of those holding multiple crowns.
Johnson City is the fifth different city to host this event, which began in 1966 with men's competition.
For complete information on the national championships, click here for the men and here for the women.