Bozner Wraps Up Successful 2016 NCAA Division II Outdoor Track and Field Championships

Bozner Wraps Up Successful 2016 NCAA Division II Outdoor Track and Field Championships
Chadron St. Athletics photo

BRADENTON, Fla. – Two more All-America honors were bestowed upon Chadron State College track and field athletes on Saturday, the final day of the 2016 NCAA Division II Outdoor Track and Field Championships, at IMG Academy. Senior Zerek Jones earned a seventh-place national finish in the men’s 800 meters, while fellow senior Shelby Bozner, yesterday’s heptathlon champion, garnered eighth in the women’s 400 meter hurdles.

Jones got his first NCAA Championship experience at this year’s NCAA indoor meet, and he used a top-three time in the critical preliminary round on Friday to propel him to All-America status. Jones ran approximately a quarter-second behind his career-best time to finish with the third-fastest time (1:50.59) in preliminaries. Bozner, on the other hand, had some previous experience, having four previous national appearances to draw upon. She ran a personal best 59.37 seconds in her prelim, coming in second only to a new championship meet record by Tia-Adana Belle of St. Augustine’s.

“It’s really surreal,” said Jones of making the award stand. “It’s definitely a dream come true. I didn’t even think I’d be running the 800 at the beginning of this year. ‘All American’ – that’s just a dream come true. I can’t really even put it into words because I’m kind of shocked, still.”

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Jones was pressed into action in the 800 meters at the start of his senior season,due to a lingering hamstring issue. Formerly a 400 meter runner, he had to leave behind the higher-octane 400 meters for the 800, which required a tougher mental edge.

Both Bozner and Jones said the experience at indoor nationals helped prepare them for the outdoor championships. For Jones, it was learning the discipline required for his particular event. For Bozner, it was putting her at ease with her competitors.

Chadron State track and field, all in just the past 35 years, has now produced 60 All-Americans in outdoor track and field alone.

The CSC men, with 12 points, finished 21st in the team rankings ahead of all but one RMAC team. The Eagle men were projected by USTFCCCA estimates outside of the top 40. Adams State University finished fourth, precisely as forecast.

The Eagle women were 14th with 19 points. It is the highest finish ever by a CSC women’s team, either by place or points. Previously, the highest the Eagle women ever finished was 19th, in 1993. Their highest point total was 12, in 2006.

 

Friday

Shelby Bozner of Chadron State College captured gold in the women’s heptathlon at the 2016 NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships in Bradenton, Florida, today. Her point total of 5,428 in the seven-event multi competition was not only a career best, but also topped her own school record.

“I absolutely did not think I’d ever think I’d get this far,” admitted Bozner, “but I believe in all the work we’ve done as a team. I had a lot less pressure that I put on myself here. When I was runner-up at indoors, it was like a dream come true. When I got here, I was able to get along with my competition so well. I think that put me at ease.”

On the way to the title, Bozner won both the 100 meter hurdles and the 200 meter dash, where she set a personal best of 24.88 seconds. She also set a new career record in the high jump finishing third with a mark of 1.67 meters, or 5′-05.75″. Bozner had a season best shot put throw of 11.34 meters on Thursday, and she clinched the heptathlon victory on Friday with a new personal record of 2:15.12 in the 800 meters, finishing second.

Bozner brings Chadron State track and field its sixth individual NCAA title in program history and its second of the weekend after Damarcus Simpson picked up a repeat victory in the men’s long jump on Thursday. CSC head track and field coach Brad Gamble is the only other multi-event national title holder in program history, winning the men’s indoor heptathlon in 2011.

“Nobody deserves this more than Shelby does,” said head track and field coach Brad Gamble. “I’m extremely proud of her and all of the hard work and sacrifice that she’s put in these last four years. She’s truly an inspiration.”

Teammates Kelsy Wood of Hemingford, Nebraska, and Sami Schmit of Cody also qualified for nationals in the heptathlon. Wood finished 12th to earn Second Team All-America honors, while Schmit tied for 13th.

Following the conclusion of the heptathlon, Keri Ruff competed in the women’s discus where she finished 15th with a throw of 44.20 meters (145′-00″).

Also in action today, Zerek Jones qualified third in a field of 21 runners in the men’s 800 meter run with a time of 1:50.59 in the preliminaries. As a result, he is guaranteed All-American honors and a podium finish after he runs in the final scheduled for 6:55 p.m. ET tomorrow.

The only other competition to watch is Bozner’s encore in the women’s 400 meter hurdles, which takes place tomorrow at 7:30 p.m. ET. She qualified second on Thursday in 59.37 seconds.

“I’ll go to the beach on Sunday,” said Bozner. “Until then, I think I’ll catch up on my sleep and get ready to compete in the 400 hurdles on Saturday.”