SAN ANGELO, Tex. -- Bemidji State University track and field standouts Kristi Buerkle and Zac Preble opened the 2009 NCAA Division II Outdoor Track and Field Championships in style Thursday.
hile Buerkle broke the BSU record en route to securing a place in the 400-meter dash finals, Preble sits in fifth after the first five events of the decathlon.
Buerkle, an indoor Division II All-America honoree in the 400-meters, made a splash in her first appearance at the outdoor national championships. The sophomore recorded the fastest 400-meter time at Bemidji State in 22 years clocking a 54.83 in the first heat of the event preliminaries. Buerkle's new school record time trims .03 off of Sue Johnson's 54.87 mark set in 1987.
Just .40 separated second place from eighth in three preliminary heats with Buerkle finding a spot in the final field of eight as she qualified sixth.
Buerkle's championship quest continues Saturday when she toes the line in the 400-meter finals at 6:45 p.m.
Preble, the BSU and Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference (NSIC) record-holder and three-time defending conference champion in the decathlon (6,672 points), completed the first day of national championship competition in fifth place among 13 participants.
Preble piled up 3,692 points during the first five events to sit 344 points shy of Day 1 leader Ryan McWilliams of Angelo State (4,036) and just 86 points out of third place.
Day 1 of the decathlon competition was highlighted by Preble¹s third event of the day--the shot put.
The junior recorded a toss of 46-08.25 to finish third among the field while he pulled in 742 points. In addition, Preble took fifth in the 400-meter dash (50.69), seventh in the 100-meter dash (11.25), stretched the tape to 21-04.25 to finish ninth in the long jump and took 10th in the high jump clearing 6-00.50.
Athletes complete the decathlon tomorrow competing in the 110-meter hurdles, discus, pole vault, javelin and 1,500-meter run. The championships get underway at 10 a.m. with the 110-meter hurdles.