ABOVE: Kari Blattner, elementary education and business administration senior, runs in the 1000 meter at nationals. Blattner created a 6 second personal record qualifying for the finals. (Contributed photo)

By Mallory Graves
Staff reporter

The national qualifiers went up north to South Dakota to compete in the NAIA National Championships, coming back with some All American honors.

Tim Testa, head track and field coach said, “Saturday will be a great day no matter what the clock or results say. I get nervous on race day, but it is because I want the athletes to run well.”

Bryce Grahn, business administration sophomore, made it to the finals in the mile, but came short of All American by just two places.

“Bryce ran a tough race, but just did not have the legs to compete on the national stage. He’s a great person and athlete, and he deserves to fight for a podium spot. He will be better prepared for the NAIA outdoor national championships,” said Testa. 

Kari Blattner, elementary education and business administration sophomore, is an Indoor All American in the women’s mile with a time of 5:17, and in the 1K, with a time of 3:01.

“Kari is one of the best in SC Track and Field history. She raced with a new found confidence that she hasn’t had since cross country season. It was great timing on her part to step up at the biggest meet of the year. She is now a four time Indoor All American in races ranging from the 600-mile. No other women in the NAIA can make that claim. She is a special athlete, and it is an honor to have her in our program,” said Testa.

Tomunci Whitfield, biology senior said, “I’m coming out stronger for outdoor track.” He ran the 200-meter dash, but did not make it to the finals. Whitfield went to the National Meet ranked 25, and finished 20.

Testa said, “Tomunci is the fastest man in SC history to run the 200-meter dash. His work ethic and willingness to accept coaching makes him an ideal athlete to work with. His outdoor season will be one full of success and records as well.”

Josh Lewis, physical performance and sports studies junior, ran the 60-meter dash, but came up just short of making the finals and earning an All American spot. He ran the second fastest time in school history, and missed the finals by .04 seconds.

“It was a hard pill for him to swallow and he was heartbroken, but he will be back stronger and faster than ever for the outdoor season,” said Testa.

“I was very pleased with our performances. All four of our athletes brought their best, and it was a blast watching them perform,” said Testa.

Mallory Graves is a freshman majoring in communication. You may email her at Mallory.Graves@sckans.edu.