Thursday, June 20, 2024

College track and field: NSU’s Beard reaches finals in 100-meter dash on first day of nationals

by Russell Hedges
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By Jonathan Zenk, Northwestern State Assistant Director of Communications; featured photo by Chris Reich, NSU Photographic Services

EUGENE, Ore. — Another race, another sensational performance from Zachaeus Beard.

Northwestern State’s senior sprinter wasn’t about to see his final collegiate season come to an end, as he qualified for Friday’s national finals in the 100-meter dash Wednesday on the first day of nationals on the campus of the University of Oregon.

“It was a great day,” head coach Mike Heimerman said. “Zach did exactly what he needed to do. He executed an almost perfect race. It will be fun to watch him Friday.”

Beard, a native of Fellowship, raced out to a fast start and finished second in his first heat to earn an automatic berth to the finals, clocking a 10.12.

Overall, he finished third out of 24 competitors, behind only Houston’s Louie Hinchliffe (10.09) and Auburn’s Kanyinsola Ajayi (10.09).

Three out of the top four finishers in the event came from the first heat.

Beard is the only runner of the nine advancing to finals to come from a non-power conference and five hail from the SEC.

“I’m just having fun,” Beard said. “And I thank God that I’m able to be healthy, happy and having fun. All praises, all praises, all praises.

His race takes place at 8:52 p.m. on Friday, as he aims to become the first national champion at NSU overall since 2019 (Jasmyn Steels) and first outdoor champion since 2011 (Trecey Rew-Hoover).

Prior to the 100-meter dash, the Demons did not finish in the men’s 4×100 relay team due to a problem during the second exchange.

“It was a great year by this group,” Heimerman said. “The 4×100 team just got a little antsy and left early on the second exchange.”

NSU is back for the first day of competition for the females Thursday, as the school record-setting 4×400 relay team has its crack at nationals, running at 10:48 p.m.

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