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Bemidji State track: Preble finishes second at NCAA Championships, Buerkle races for national title Saturday

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Bemidji Pioneer
Bemidji State track: Preble finishes second at NCAA Championships, Buerkle races for national title Saturday
Bemidji Minnesota P.O. Box 455 56619

CHARLOTTE, N.C. - Zac Preble ended his Bemidji State track and field career with a second place finish in the NCAA Division II Track and Field Championships Friday.


The senior earned all-American honors with the runner up finish to champion Darius Walker, who finished with the top score of 7,222 points in the 12-man field. Preble finished second a mere 29 points behind Walker with a personal-best 7,193 points.

"I'm happy with it but I know I could have done much better - I hoped to do better - but it is the best I've ever done," Preble said.

The Coleraine native turned in great performances in the field events on second day of competition in front of his family, but a last place showing in the 110 meter hurdles was enough to keep him from the national title.

"I can't be upset because I had a personal best score overall today," Preble said. "I've got to be happy with even though I'm not really happy with it."

The 110 hurdles was the first event of the day and Preble finished 12th with a time of 16.35 seconds, almost a full two seconds back from Walker in first place. That translated into a difference of 211 points in Walker's favor toward the overall decathlon score.

"I came out really well in the hurdles and got through the first five probably the best I've ever done," Preble said. "But then I hit the sixth one and it twisted me sideways and it went all downhill from there."

Preble reasserted himself in the second event, the discus throw, with a toss of 137-01 feet in to take first place by a full two feet.

He then went on to win the pole vault with a vault of 15-03 feet in the finals to win that event by four inches.

Preble was fourth in the javelin throw with a distance of 173-03 feet.

He took fifth in the final event, the 1,500 run, with a time of 4:50.47.

The second place finish was Preble's best of his collegiate career. He took fourth place as a junior and though he qualified for his sophomore season, he did not participate due to an injury.

The Bemidji State Male Athlete of the Year ended his standout college career as a three-time all-American, four-time NSIC heptathlon champion and four-time NSIC decathlon champion. He took second place in the NCAA indoor heptathlon championship in March.

He was named the NSIC Male Field Athlete of the Year and the NCAA Central Region Indoor Field Athlete of the Year his senior year.

The 7,193 points he scored this week broke his own school record for decathlon points. He already owns the NSIC decathlon record.

With his collegiate career over, Preble is setting his sights on national and possible international competition. The USA Olympic Trials for the 2012 London Olympics are two summers away and Preble expressed desire to compete at that level.

"I'm going to keep training over the next year; mostly in Grand Rapids but also back in Bemidji," said Preble, who is expecting a child with his wife Chelsea in the coming months. "Chelsea's really supportive of it and she's been great."

Buerkle in 400 final

Kristi Buerkle will race for the 400 meter dash championship Saturday evening.

The junior sprinter qualified for the championship by running a personal-best time of 54.31 seconds in Thursday's heat races.

"Yesterday's times in general were insane," Buerkle said. "I raced in the third heat and I hate that last position because you're watching all the times going up ahead of you. I knew I had to go out there and win my heat to be guaranteed a spot in the finals."

She won the heat and had the third fastest qualification time.

Buerkle ran the 200 meter dash Friday and failed to qualify for the championship race with a 19th place finish. She was seeded 26th heading into the race.

"I had to wait two and a half hours to go because of a rain delay and that wasn't easy mentally," Buerkle said. "But I'm happy with it."

Buerkle is a three-time all-American in the 400 dash and took second place in the event at the NCAA Indoor Championships in March.

She finished seventh in 400 dash last year at the NCAA Outdoor Championships.

"Things are really good so far here," Buerkle said. "I was concerned about running the 200 today because I expected it to be an off day between the (400) races. But I think it was good to get out there and run today. I had to run anyway so it might as well have been in a race."

Pioneer staff reports