SOU dazzles in national indoor finals

PITTSBURG, Kan. — Jessa Perkinson dominating the final day of a national meet was nothing new, but she had plenty of company from Southern Oregon University at the podium Saturday at the NAIA Indoor Championships.

The Raiders ran three women's finals at the Robert W. Plaster Center and placed top-three in each of them, led by a runner-up finish by the 4x400-meter relay team of Brooke Carson, Savannah Greenwade, Arianna Daniel and Loghan Sprauer. Perkinson captured third in the 3,000 meters and a couple hours later joined Kayle Blackmore, Tara Crosswhite and Bree Weber to claim third in the distance medley relay.

The performances gave the Raiders 20 total points and 12th place in the women's team standings.

"It was a very good day for our women's track program," SOU head coach Grier Gatlin said, "and it bodes very well for the outdoor season."

Perkinson is now a 12-time overall NAIA All-American, an SOU record for any sport. She's compiled eight top-three finishes, including six solo, going into her final season in outdoor track.

The 4x400 team matched last year's DMR for the best-ever finish for an SOU women's relay at a national meet. After taking the No. 6 seed with a time of 3:53.65 in Thursday's prelims, the Raiders won their finals heat in 3:50.85 — clearing Siena Heights (Mich.)'s 3:51.95. Southern New Orleans won the title by dominating the other head in 3:37.92.

Daniel, Greenwade and Sprauer each earned their second career All-America plaques.

"They ran phenomenal," Gatlin said. "(Assistant coach Mark Badowsky) had them very prepared and they were well positioned throughout the race."

Perkinson, running the 3K for the first time in three appearances at the meet, finished in 9:43.65. Oklahoma City's Aminat Olowora — also last fall's NAIA cross country champion — won in 9:33.96, and SCAD Atlanta's Emily Kearney came in at 9:38.18. Perkinson cleared fourth-place Bethany Brown of MidAmerica Nazarene by nearly 19 seconds.

The DMR team, which was the No. 8 seed after Thursday's prelims, clocked in at 12:05.67 as Blackmore took the 1,200-meter portion, Crosswhite the 400, Weber the 800 and Perkinson the anchor mile. They edged fourth-place Carroll (Mont.) by three-tenths of a second, were five seconds behind Wayland Baptist (Tex.) and seven back of champion Aquinas (Mich.).

It was the third consecutive top-five finish for the Raiders' DMR. Blackmore — now a four-time overall All-American — and Perkinson were part of each previous finish, too.

SOU's outdoor season opens next Saturday at Chico State's Wildcat Invite.

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