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Bemidji State track and field: Preble, Buerkle in prime positions at NCAA tourney

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. -- The first day of the 2010 NCAA Division II Indoor Track and Field Championships is in the books and the Bemidji State University contingent is right where it wanted to be.

Senior heptathlete Zac Preble sits third after four events, while junior sprinter Kristi Buerkle won her heat and advanced to the 400-meter dash finals.

Preble opened his day in seventh after the 60-meter dash. He clocked a time 7.34--a time that mirrored his performance in the first event of the 2010 Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference Championships (NSIC) en route to a BSU and NSIC record and fourth consecutive league heptathlon crown.

From there, he stretched the tape to 20-10.00 in the long jump, a distance that placed him ninth in the events. In eighth place after two events, the third event is where Preble began to make his move. The Coleraine, Minn. native logged a season-best 50-00.75 in the shot put, to move to second place before settling into the third position after clearing a 2010-best 6-02.25 in the high jump.

"Zac is healthy and competing well," said head coach Craig Hougen. "We feel like we are in a good position to have a good day tomorrow and take it all."

Later in the day, it was Buerkle's turn to keep her All-America and national championship hopes alive.

Entering the meet as the owner the nation's fastest 400-meter time of 2010, the Stacy native had something to prove and she didn't disappoint. She broke the tape in 54.76, trimming .35 from her school record and NSIC Championship performance Feb. 27 (55.09) to win her heat and go into tomorrow's 400 final as the top contender.

"Today Kristi ran the race of an experienced runner. She just ran very smart," commented Hougen. [At the NSIC championships] she had a fantastic start. Today she wasn't quite as fast out of the blocks, but she finished well and after the race she told me she still hag some in the tank at the end."

The NCAA Indoor Championships conclude today.