Michelle Mumm-Neola-Morningside
©Mike Brynes

Morningside Will Send 8 to Nationals

Kati Kneifl-Sheldon-Morningside ©Nick Buth

Kati Kneifl-Sheldon-Morningside
©Nick Buth

Morningside will compete in eight events at the 2017 NAIA Outdoor Track & Field National Championships this Thursday through Saturday at Mickey Miller Blackwell Stadium in Gulf Shores, Ala.

Courtesy Mavericks Athletics, click here! Feature photo: Michelle Mumm-Neola-Morningside ©Mike Brynes

The Mustangs’ individual event entries are Reece Jackson in the men’s 110-meter hurdles, Kati Kneifl in the women’s javelin, Michelle Mumm in the women’s 800-meters and Sean Skillern in the men’s 3000-meter steeplechase. Morningside will also compete in the men’s 400 and 3200-meter relays and the women’s 1600 and 3200-meter relays.

The top eight finishers in each individual and relay event are awarded NAIA All-America status.

Morningside has produced an All-America effort in the men’s 3200-meter relay three times in the last four years, including a NAIA National Championship in 2013, and it is the Mustangs’ strongest event going in this year as well.

The Mustangs’ quartet of Jacob Green, a junior from Sioux Falls, S.D.; Alec DeVries, a junior from Merrill, Iowa; Kyle Hiser, a senior from Shenandoah, Iowa; and Drew Schiltz, a senior from Hinton, Iowa, have the sixth fastest time in the field with a 7:41.30, which came at this year’s Great Plains Athletic Conference (GPAC) Championships. The same four runners earned All-America honors earlier this year with a fifth place finish in the 3200-meter relay at the NAIA Indoor National Championships.

Green, Hiser and Schlitz helped lead the Mustangs to a sixth place finish in the 3200-meter relay at last year’s NAIA Outdoor National Championships and a seventh place effort in last year’s NAIA Indoor National Championships.

Schiltz has helped lead the Mustangs to a pair of GPAC 3200-meter relay titles during his career, while DeVries, Green, and Hiser have also run for GPAC championship teams in the event. Green, this year’s GPAC runner-up in the 800-meters, was the GPAC champion in the 1000-meters and earned All-America honors with a seventh place national finish in the 1000-meters during the indoor season, while DeVries is a three-time All-GPAC performer in cross country.

Indiana Tech University is the NAIA national leader in the 3200-relay with a time of 7:35.10 and returns all four runners from a team that was last year’s runner-up. Siena Heights has the second fastest time in the field with a 7:35.86 and boasts two of the nation’s fastest 800-meter runners in Brent Rodden, the NAIA 800-meter runner-up during the indoor season, and Anthony Vermilye. Indiana Tech and Siena Heights finished second and third, respectively, in the 3200-meter relay at this year’s NAIA Indoor National Championships behind Cardinal Stritch University. Cardinal Stritch and defending champion Friends University are not in the field.

The Mustangs also hope to contend in the women’s 3200-meter relay, where they have the eighth fastest qualifying time with a 9:18.27 at the Northwestern Red Raider Open. Morningside’s national entry of Payton Boer, a sophomore from Sioux Center, Iowa; Tiffany Shepherd, a senior from Corning, Iowa; Michelle Mumm, a junior from Neola, Iowa; and Cassie Warner, a sophomore from Council Bluffs, Iowa, will run together in the event for the first time this season.

Mumm and Shepherd helped lead the Mustangs to a sixth place finish in the 3200-meter relay at last year’s NAIA Outdoor National Championships. Mumm, this year’s GPAC 1500-meter champion and indoor mile runner-up, has been a member of three All-America relay teams during her Morningside career. She earned individual All-America honors during the indoor season with a fifth place finish in the 1000-meters and is a two-time All-GPAC performer in cross country. Shepherd, a three-time All-GPAC cross country selection, was this year’s GPAC runner-up in the 3000-meters during the indoor season and is the school-record holder in the event with a time of 10:16.99. Boer, the GPAC runner-up in the 3000-meter steeplechase, was a national qualifier in the 600-meters during the indoor season.

Wayland Baptist University is the NAIA national leader with a time of 9:07.85 and boasts a pair of indoor 800-meter All-Americans in Tiffany Cano and Elizabeth Williams. GPAC rivals Northwestern College and Dordt College have the second and fourth fastest times in the field at 9:09.61 and 9:13.42, respectively. Northwestern’s relay contingent includes GPAC 800-meter champion Katie Bosch and Katie Landhuis, the NAIA indoor runner-up in the 800-meters, while Dordt has the GPAC indoor 800-meter champion in Justine Van Zee. Defending champion Biola University has the 10th fastest qualifying time with a 9:22.06, while Oklahoma City University, this year’s NAIA indoor National Champion, is 17th with a 9:26.80.

Boer and Mumm will join Eleka Joseph, a junior from Saint John’s, Antigua, and Rose Pelelo-Ray, a sophomore from Merrill, Iowa, in the women’s 1600-meter relay. They have the 14th fastest time in the field with a 3:54.67, which garnered them a second place finish at this year’s GPAC Outdoor Championships. Joseph, the GPAC indoor runner-up in the 55-meters, combined with Boer and Mumm for an eighth place finish in the distance medley relay at this year’s NAIA Indoor National Championships.

Wiley College, last year’s third place finisher, is the NAIA national leader with a time of 3:43.71 and has one of the nation’s fastest 400-meter specialists in Natasha Poleon. Defending national champion Southern University-New Orleans has the second fastest qualifying time with a 3:46.90 and boasts the three fastest 400-meter runners in the nation in Shadne Hylton (53.50 seconds), the NAIA indoor runner-up; Orenthia Bennett (53.98), the 2016 NAIA outdoor National Champion; and Argyana Bolton (54.10). Carroll College won the 1600-meter relay national title during the indoor season and is third in the field with a time of 3:47.54.

Aside from her two relay events, Mumm will also compete in the women’s 800-meters. Her fastest time of the season (2:14.99) came at the Sioux City Relays and ranks 21st among the national qualifiers.

Defending NAIA National Champion Hannah Segrave of Milligan College leads the nation with a time of 2:04.49, which is almost five seconds faster than No. 2 qualifier Anna Shields (2:09.41) of Point Park University. Segrave had a victory margin of almost seven seconds over runner-up Landhuis of Northwestern when she won this year’s NAIA indoor 800-meter National Championship. Northwestern’s Bosch, this year’s GPAC 800-meter outdoor champion, has the fourth fastest qualifying time with a 2:12.46.

Kneifl, a sophomore from Sheldon, Iowa, hopes to contend for All-America honors in the javelin. Kneifl, this year’s GPAC runner-up, was the javelin champion at each of the Mustangs’ first five meets of the season, including the Dordt Invitational, where her distance of 138-5 is the seventh longest throw in the nation.

Defending champion Seri Geisler of Valley City State University is the NAIA national leader with a distance of 167-10, while last year’s third place finisher, Bailey Dell of Northwest Christian University, is second at 162-6. Carroll’s Crystal Schmidt also returns after a fourth place finish last year.

Morningside’s GPAC championship 400-meter relay team of Perman Wilson, a junior from Lakeland, Fla.; Will Griffin, a junior from Cedar Rapids, Iowa; Klayton Nordeen, a freshman from Alliance, Neb.; and Logan Roberts, a freshman from Shenandoah, Iowa; have the 17th fastest time in the field at 41.52 seconds, which came at the GPAC Championships.

Wilson doubled in the 100 and 200-meters at this year’s GPAC Outdoor Championships and was the GPAC champion in the 55-meters during the indoor season.

Wayland Baptist is the NAIA national leader with a time of 39.71 seconds and is the only school to break 40 seconds this season. The Pioneers have two of the fastest sprinters in the nation in seniors Kabroderan Handsborough, the 2015 NAIA 100-meter National Champion, and Justin Scruggs, the 2014 NAIA 100-meter National Champion. Defending champion Indiana Tech has the third fastest qualifying time (40.30) and returns Trevor Stanley and Wayne Sharbahn from last year’s winning entry to go along with Kejavon Moore, this year’s NAIA indoor National Champion in the 60-meters.

Skillern, a senior from Shenandoah, Iowa, ranks 17th among the national qualifiers in the 3000-meter steeplechase with a time of 9:30.26. Skillern reigned in the event at this year’s GPAC Outdoor Championships following a cross country campaign where he earned All-GPAC laurels.

Defending national champion John Gay of the University of British Columbia is the overwhelming pre-meet favorite. Gay’s qualifying time of 8:43.20 is 22 seconds faster than that of No. 2 qualifier T.J. Wright of Northwest Christian, who was last year’s runner-up. The field also includes returning All-Americans Billy Godfrey of College of Idaho, who finished fifth last year, Joel Hartman (sixth) of Bethel College of Indiana and Kevin Poteracke (eighth) of Southern Oregon University.

Jackson, a sophomore from Marcus, Iowa, is the nation’s 13th fastest qualifier in the 110-meter high hurdles with a time of 14.66 seconds, which garnered him a runner-up finish at the GPAC Outdoor Championships.

Indiana Tech’s Stanley, the national runner-up in the 60-meter high hurdles during the indoor season, is the NAIA national leader with a time of 14.14 seconds, while reigning national champion and two-time indoor 60-meter high hurdles national champion Taylor Killings of Marian University is the second fastest qualifier at 14.23. The field also includes returning All-Americans Chaz Hawkins of Tennessee Wesleyan University and Bogdan Pavel of British Columbia, who finished sixth and seventh, respectively, last year.