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Bemidji State track: Preble, Buerkle start solid at NCAA Championships

CHARLOTTE, N.C. - Bemidji State decathlete Zac Preble is alone in second place after the first day of decathlon events and sprinter Kristi Buerkle qualified for the 400 dash finals Thursday at the NCAA Division II Track and Field Championships.

Preble has 3,748 points and trails only Central Missouri's Darius Walker at 3,865 points.

The decathlon is shaping up to be a competition similar to the NCAA Indoor heptathlon competition. Walker edged Preble by 83 points in March to win that national championship.

The first day of events included three field disciplines and two running disciplines.

The first event was the 100 meter dash and Preble finished fifth out of 12 with a time of 11.36 seconds.

In the second event, the long jump, Preble finished seventh with a jump of 21-03.50 feet in the finals.

Preble shined in the third event, the shot put, by winning the event by nearly eight feet. His throw of 49-05.75 feet earned the top spot.

Preble took sixth in the high jump by clearing the bar at 6-01.25 feet.

In the final event of the day, the 400 meter dash, Preble finished fifth with a time of 50.39 seconds.

Walker took the top spot after day one by winning the 100 dash, long jump and 400 dash events, but could not pull away with sixth place finish in the shot put and a tie for seventh place in the high jump.

The final five events are scheduled to begin Friday at 10 a.m. The day begins with the 110 meter hurdles, discus throw, pole vault and concludes with the javelin throw and the 1500 meter run.

Preble will look to make up ground in the pole vault, discus and javelin: three of the four events he considers his best strength.

The decathlon competition is too close to call. West Virginia Wesleyan's Ricky Krump is on Preble's heels in third place at 3,741 points. Chico State's J. Patrick Smith is fourth at 3,664 points and Central Missouri's Brent Vogel is fifth at 3,649 points.

Preble is competing in the decathlon for the second straight season. He finished fourth last season.

Later on in the evening, Buerkle ran the third fastest qualification time in a field of 23 runners in the 400 dash preliminaries.

She won the third heat with a new personal best time of 54.31 seconds.

That was the third fastest overall time and good enough to qualify her for the 400 dash finals.

Angelo State's Celethia Byrd was the fastest in the preliminaries with a time of 53.14 seconds. That time edged out Winona State's Kelly Shaw in second place at 53.62 seconds and Buerkle.

Buerkle will run in the 200 meter dash preliminaries Friday night.

The NCAA Outdoor Track and?Field Championships mark the end of the BSU Track and Field season.