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(Gulf Shores, Ala.) Dillard University's 4x400 meter relay team advanced to Saturday's NAIA final at Mickey Miller Blackwell Stadium in Gulf Shores with a first place finish in their heat and a third place finish overall in Friday's preliminary round, posting a time of 3:47.67. The team is comprised of Megan Reed, Sasha Newman, Tajdreana Hurst and India Ware. Furthermore, freshman Quamel Sessoms (FR/Portsmouth, Va.) earned NAIA All-American honors with a seventh place finish in the men's long jump, leaping a distance of 7.27 meters.
"I wanted to win that thing," said Sessoms, who was the lone Bleu Devil to compete at the national championships. "I gave it my all on that final jump." Sessoms is the current Gulf Coast Athletic Conference champion in the men's long jump.
A total of three GCAC teams qualified for the 4x4 finals. Southern University at New Orleans, who are considered one of the favorites of the finals, finished right behind Dillard with a time of 3:48.24. Xavier University finished seventh in the prelims, posting a time of 3:49.87.
"I'm excited to see what we do today in the final," said Coach Williams. "We plan on finishing in the top three."
Despite having a tough spill and falling down in Thursday's 400m hurdles, Newman bounced back with force as she finished in third place overall in the women's 100m hurdles (prelims), posting a time of 14.28. Today she will compete in the final round as she attempts to come back to New Orleans as an All-American.
"I asked Him (God) why every meet I pray, I pray and pray and I do phenomenal and I come to my final meet and do my same prayer and fall," said Newman. "No one may get it, but the way I look at it is, this was God's plan all along because my relationship with God wasn't where He wanted it to be. I shouldn't be running off a retrial prayer, but by my faith. So I'll be ready for my final races, not for any plaque, picture on the wall or article, but just for Him."
Saturday, May 28
The women's 4x100 relay (final) will begin at 2:40 p.m. At 3:20 p.m., Newman will compete in the women's 100m hurdles (final). At 5:10 p.m., Fortuna will compete in the women's 200m dash (final) and to close out the evening, the women's 4x400 relay (final) will begin at 6:15 p.m. with the awards ceremony to follow, which is set to begin approximately around 6:50 p.m.
Stretch Internet, the NAIA's official video-streaming company of NAIA national championship events, will be broadcasting the events on www.NAIANetwork.com. A subscription package to view the entire three-day event is $14.95. For more information, including how to register and sign-up for an account, click here.