Five Buffs headed to nationals

By Jeff Birchfield

   Five Milligan track and field athletes will compete next week with the nation's best in a town more noted for four-legged speed.
   It's no "Run for the Roses," but the contingent of Josh Ferry, Chris Wright, JaKeith Hariston, Marta Zimon and Morgan Lease are just as eager to head to the University of Louisville for the NAIA Outdoor National Track Meet on May 27-29.
   "We were excited to go up there with five young men and women that comprise our largest group," said Milligan head coach Chris Layne. "We want to continue to grow in that direction and to provide an environment that will continuously go to the National Event."
   Ferry earned his way to the Bluegrass state by running a personal best 1:52.57 in the 800 meters.
   "I think Josh has an outstanding chance in the nationals," said Layne. "Josh is right now 11th or 12th in the nation. We have started to taper him down and prepare him to run fast in Louisville."
   Wright not only beat a personal mark, but set a new school record in the men's 5000 meters with a time of 15:06.
   The two Lady Buffalo runners also scored in the 5000 meters. Zimon didn't match her personal best time of 17:27 in 2003, but a 17:50 run was easily fast enough to make the national qualifying requirement. She will be joined in the race by teammate Megan Lease, who turned in a personal best time of 18:14 to make the field.
   "You can never count out Marta Zimon," commented Layne. "She is our National Champion from indoors a year ago. Marta is coming off an injury, but she's starting to round down and get back to where she was before. Both Marta and Megan Lease have the potential to make the finals in the 5000 meters."
   Hairston became a double school record holder in 2004 with a 23' 5 1/4" long jump and a 46' 4" triple jump. For Hairston, the national event will be his last major sporting venture in a Buffalo uniform. Also a player on the men's basketball team, Hairston plans to transfer to Middle Tennessee State in the fall.
   "He has my blessing going to MTSU as he's very interested in the music industry and they have a great program," said Layne. "He is a great athlete. The trouble with Jakeith is he physically keeps getting faster and stronger. We're having to make continuous adjustments on the runway from week to week. If we can get the launch down right, he has a great shot at the Nationals."
   Even the ones who didn't qualify for the national meet, had plenty of reason to cheer this past season. Two-sport athlete Morgan Hyatt, also on the volleyball team, came back from shoulder surgery to barely miss qualifying in the discus throw.
   Allison Langrel became a school record holder in the 400 meter hurdles with a time of 68.12 seconds. Jair Collie set a personal milestone going under 2 minutes in the 800 meters for the first time with a 1:58 run at a Clemson University meet.
   In all, 63 Milligan track stars have qualified for the Nationals over the past five years with nine athletes getting the distinction of being named All-Americans.
   "We're going to have take ten or twelve folks on a regular basis to really be in the hunt to score team points," said Layne. "This is another step in the right direction for us."