Beavers fly south to compete in the NCAA Division II Championships
Thursday, March 12, 2009
BEMIDJI , Minn. -- Bemdji State University track and field athletes Zac Preble (Jr., Coleraine, Minn.) and Kristi Buerkle (So., Stacy, Minn.) have flown south for the 2009 NCAA Division II Indoor Track and Field Championships in Houston, Tex. The two athletes and their coaches have made their way to the biggest stage of the 2009 indoor season. The national championship meet is set to begin on Friday for Preble at 9 a.m. Buerkle will run in the 400-meter dash preliminaries at 4:30 p.m.

In somewhat of a homecoming, Bemidji State sprinter Buerkle will compete in her first national championship meet. Buerkle was born in El Paso, Tex., and still has family in the area.

The sophomore improved on her time throughout the season and hopes to continue to improve heading into the national championship meet. While provisionally qualifying for the national meet, Buerkle’s time moved her into the eleventh spot. She is looking forward to the level of competition she will face.

“I’m really excited,” said Buerkle. “I don’t really know what to expect yet, so I’m just going to go out there and plan to run my best.”

Buerkle qualified for the NCAA tournament for her efforts in the Beaver Twilight Feb. 19. BSU’s sprinter recorded a time of 57.26 in the 400-meter dash, which also broke her own school-record from the 2008 indoor season. Buerkle improved on her time at the NSIC championships this past weekend, the sophomore crossed the line in 57.03. In the process, Buerkle improved on her previous provisional qualifying time for the National Championships, moving into the eleventh spot. Buerkle is one of thirty women track and field athletes from the NSIC to qualify for the NCAA championships.

Head coach Craig Hougen, in his 20th season as head coach of the Beavers, once again will lead his athletes into the national championship meet. Hougen is looking for Preble to have a successful meet. “I really think that he is going to have a good weekend,” said Hougen. “If he just has an average meet he should do well.”

Junior multi-event athlete Preble will compete in his second consecutive national championship meet this weekend. After failing to finish the meet due to injury last season, Preble will look to rebound with a strong showing in 2009.

Preble enters the NCAA championships ranked fifth on the 2009 NCAA Division II indoor performance list. The junior scored a school-record 5,012 points in the heptathlon at the NSIC multi-event championships Feb. 15-16. Preble went on to defend his conference championship that weekend outscoring his closest opponent by 460 points. Preble, and nine other men’s track and field athletes from the NSIC will represent the conference at the championships.

An opening ceremony was held on Tuesday, Preble and Buerkle represented the green and white in a large number of athletes in the ceremony. They continue to gear-up for the competition while getting practice sessions in. Preble will compete in the Heptathlon starting with the 60-meter run, long jump, shot put, and high jump on Friday. The junior will pick up competition on Saturday competing in the 60-meter hurdles, pole vault, and 1,000-meter run.

Buerkle will open the national meet in the preliminaries for the 400-meter dash, which is set for 4:30 p.m. start on Friday. The finals for the 400-meter dash will be run at 3:50 p.m. Saturday afternoon.

Preble and Buerkle have been invited to participate in the YES Clinic on the campus of Texas Southern University in Houston, Tex. The two track and field athletes will have the opportunity to provide sports skills instruction to area youth ages 10-16. The goal of the clinic is for the athletes to pass on conditioning tips to help them improve their athletic performance, while passing along life skills and sportsmanship.