GULF SHORES, Ala. – Midland University throwers Seth Sabata and Nathan Houser both reached the medal stand at the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) Outdoor Track and Field Championships. With their placings they helped the Warriors to a 23rd place as a team and also earned NAIA All-America honors. The placing is Midland’s highest since finishing 19th in 2003.
Compared to years past, the teams did not delays due to rain or storms down in Gulf Shores, Alabama. However they did have warmer temperatures and higher heat indexes.
Sabata, redshirt junior from Columbus, Nebraska, placed in both the men’s shot put and men’s hammer throw. He was 6th in the shot with a best throw of 16.99m (55’ 9”) and placed 7th in the hammer with a best effort of 59.17m (194’ 1”).
Houser, a senior from Fremont, Nebraska, was the national runner-up in the men’s hammer throw with a best effort of 62.43m (204’ 10”). He also competed in the men’s discus, finishing 16th overall (47.08m, 154’ 5”).
Joining them in the throwing events on the men’s side were Reid Kirlin, a senior from Missouri Valley, Iowa, and Dylan Kucera, a freshman from Fremont. Kirlin qualified for and took part in three separate events. He placed 10th in the hammer (54.45m, 178’ 8”), 24th in the discus (45.25m, 148’ 5”), and fouled on all three attempts in the shot put.
Kucera placed 13th in the men’s shot put (15.62m, 51’ 3”) and was 18th in the hammer throw (51.47m, 168’ 10”) in his first outdoor national championships.
On the women’s side, Avery Blahauvietz, a junior from Eagle, Nebraska, competed in the women’s hammer throw. Her best effort of 49.27m (161’ 8”) was good enough for 15th place.
“The throwers competed well, as they did all year,” stated Coach Gerber. “They all put very high expectations on themselves as well as the group, and they lived up to those expectations. Three All-America awards, including a runner up, backed up how highly regarded the group was this season.”
The Warriors also had a quartet of runners competing in the marathon on Saturday morning. With temperatures still relatively warm and in the 70s at 6:00 a.m., Braska Patterson, CJ Martinez, Cortland Cassidy, and Alex France began their 26.2 mile trek on trails and roads in the area.
Patterson, a senior from Stanton, Nebraska, ran her fastest time ever in the event and finished in 17th place with a time of 3:34:32.22. It was over a 20 minute improvement. She finishes her career ranked 8th all-time in program history in the event.
Cassidy, a senior from Hooper, Nebraska, also set a new personal record in the event. He placed 15th out of the field of over 60 runners with a time of 2:54:09.48. France, a freshman from Omaha, Nebraska, ran a time of 2:56:59.88 to place 23rd. Unfortunately, Martinez, a freshman from Fremont, was a casualty of the weather and did not finish the race.
“Despite the temperature and head index, we had incredible performances in the marathon,” said Coach Gerber about the conditions. “Both Cortland and Braska ran great races and set huge PRs. Factor in the fact that they were student teaching all semester and still found a way to train at a high level, makes it even more impressive. I’m also very excited about Alex finishing 23rd in his first full marathon.”
“We are really going to miss the seniors,” Coach Gerber added. “It has been a great opportunity to be able to watch then compete and grow over these four years.”