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Bemidji State's Buerkle qualifies for 400 finals

Kristi Buerkle of the Bemidji State University women's track and field team will try to capture the NCAA II indoor championship in the 400-meter dash today in Albuquerque, N.M.

The senior finished sixth among 12 qualifiers in Friday's 400 preliminary heats with a time of 55.76 and she will join eight other competitors in today's championship race.

Buerkle also competed in the 200-meter preliminaries Friday but she wasn't perfect with her first step and failed to qualify for today's final, finishing 11th in a time of 25.19.

Buerkle entered the national competition seeded 11th in the 200 field with a preliminary qualifying time of 24.64.

"We needed to go about one-half second faster," said BSU coach Craig Hougen. "The 200 is a very tough race. Kristi was little compared to everybody else in the 200 at nationals and she had to run the perfect race to qualify for the finals."

In today's 400 finals Buerkle will be in the first heat and the BSU athlete will own the fastest preliminary time among the racers in her heat.

"We think this is the perfect spot for Kristi," Hougen said. "Instead of having to chase somebody ahead of her she should beat the field to the corners and be pressed to maintain the lead.

"This should give Kristi the best chance to have her fastest possible time."

Today's 400 final is scheduled for 5:50 p.m. Central time.

"Kristi had a good day today," Hougen said. "And we're set up to have a great day on Saturday."

At 4 p.m. today Bemidji State's Raphael Gelo will try to earn All-America honors in the pole vault. The Beaver sophomore is one of 13 vaulters in today's championship field and he qualified seventh among the competitors with a height of 16.08.

If Gelo can maintain that status he will accomplish his goal of becoming an All-American.

Pat Miller

Pat Miller is the sports editor at the Pioneer.

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