Thirteen members of the men's track and field team will continue their seasons next weekend at the NCAA West Preliminary with some of the top athletes in the nation.
Only the forty-eight athletes from each region are selected to compete in each individual event and the top twenty-four relays are also selected.
"It will be great to see some of these athletes perform," said Trey Jones. "And to be able to perform along with them is just an honor."
DJ Hayes, Brian Helaire, Jones, Henry Jordan, Jessie Martinez, Ryan Oakes, Preston Sanders, Trevor Sealy, Karique Stephen, Matthew Viverette, Charles White and Jarrick Wright will all represent Sam Houston in their respective events.
"It feels good that I'll have my teammates behind me supporting," said White. "Of course I have their back as well and I'm sure I'll lose my voice cheering them on."
The Kats will go into Austin together with a common goal: perform at a high level and try to qualify for nationals.
"We expect big marks and PR's from everybody," said Helaire. "Nobody is satisfied with just getting in. We're going to make some noise.
"This time of year is a lot of fun too because it's carefree. No responsibilities except running and hanging out with my teammates, who are like family."
While some of the athletes knew they were headed to the meet, others had to wait through several tense days to see if they had qualified.
"It was unbearable," said Karique Stephen.
Two of the athletes waiting to see if they had qualified in the sprinting events were Henry Jordan and Jarrick Wright, members of the 4x100 meter relay.
"The wait was really nerve wrecking," said Wright. "I was sitting a spot out in the 100 and the 4x100. I was just ready to know."
"Waiting was brutal," said Jordan. "I already knew I had made it in the long jump, but was on the bubble for the relay and the 100. I think I know how the basketball teams feel on selection Sunday waiting to see if they made March madness. It was a lot of the same feelings."
Those athletes "on the bubble" were able to celebrate after event lists were posted.
"When I first looked at the list and saw us on there, I started to jump up and down like crazy," said Matt Buegeler. "It probably made the people in the apartment below me mad, but this kind of thing doesn't happen every day."
The 4x400 meter relay is the Kats' highest ranked event going into the meet. The team of Trey Jones, Brian Helaire, Jessie Martinez and DJ Hayes ranks twelfth with a season best time of 3:07.49.
"We're running fast and at this time of year, we look forward to better competition," said Helaire. "I actually qualified in the 4x400 last year with my teammates, so to come back again gives us loftier expectations. We expect to win. We expect to go to nationals. We're confident."
The school record in the event is 3:07.13, which the team expects to break at regionals.
"Our goal as a group is to run 3:06 in the relay, which would set a school record," said Helaire. "But we would not be surprised at all to run even faster. Every day we motivate each other and challenge each other to be better and to be great."
Hayes is also running the individual 400 meter dash. He enters the meet as the fifteenth ranked competitor with a time of 46.29. However, Hayes has shown he can run even faster holding the school record time of 45.93 in the event.
Matthew Viverette ranks in the top twenty in both of his events. He will compete in the 110 and 400 meter hurdles for the Kats.
"I really just want to best my times for the season and come off strong in everything," said Viverette. "I believe if I can do that then there may be more races to come this season but like I said it's anyone's race and especially in hurdles, the only thing you rest assured of is that anything can happen in the hurdles."
The 4x100 meter relay ranks twenty-third for Sam Houston going into the meet. The team of Henry Jordan, Hayes, Matt Buegeler and Jarrick Wright will look to best their season best time of 40.29 in the event.
Wright is one of three Bearkats competing in three events at the meet (Hayes and Jordan will also compete in three events). Along with the 4x100 relay, he will also run the 100 and 200 meter dashes.
"I'm stoked because I'm ready to see what the nation's best can offer," said Wright. "My goal is believing in the work we have done this year and running at my best."
Senior Ryan Oakes enters the meet ranked twenty-fifth in the pole vault with a season best of 17-2.75.
"Once I jumped my PR this year I was pretty much a sure in," said Oakes. "It was a huge relief knowing that there was one less thing to be on my mind during the season.
"My goal is to clear whatever it takes to make top twelve so I can secure a spot in the national championships."
The Bearkat will have two athletes competing in the triple jump in Charles White and Karique Stephen. White ranks twenty-fifth in the event (50-10.25) and Stephen ranks twenty-ninth (50-5.25).
White will also compete in the long jump where he ranks thirty-third (24-6.25).
"To make it in the long and triple jump is such an honor," said White. "I love the challenge. God has blessed me with a tremendous opportunity and I'm going to take full advantage. This is what I love doing."
Jordan will compete with White in the long jump, going in with an identical mark (24-6.25). He will also compete in the individual 100 meter dash.
"I tell them the same thing Coach Self tells us, do what you did to get there and good things will happen," said Jordan. "We have to realize we belong there and that we are just as worthy as any other school to make some noise at the meet."
Also competing for the Kats in the meet will be Preston Sanders in the shot put and Trevor Sealy in the hammer throw.
"It means the world to me to share this experience with the guys," said Viverette. "I couldn't have picked a better group to share this experience with. Along with that it just shows the amount work that we have put in this year to make it this far. Especially since most of the times and jumps came from the conference meet. It's definitely going to be memory going with these guys."
For a complete list of athletes competing in the NCAA West Preliminary visit http://www.rtspt.com/ncaa/d1outdoor12/.
The complete list of Sam Houston State entries and their marks:
Event 3 Men 400 Meter Dash Prelims
15 Darryl Hayes 46.29
Event 1 Men 100 Meter Dash Prelims
40 Jarrick Wright 10.48
45 Henry Jordan 10.54
Event 2 Men 200 Meter Dash Prelims
41 Jarrick Wright 21.23
Event 3 Men 400 Meter Dash Prelims
15 Darryl Hayes 46.29
Event 11 Men 4x100 Meter Relay Prelims
23 Sam Houston St. 40.29
Henry Jordan, D. J. Hayes, Matt Buegeler, Jarrick Wright
Event 12 Men 4x400 Meter Relay Prelims
12 Sam Houston St. 3:07.49
Trey Jones, Brian Hellaire, Jesse Martinez, D. J. Hayes
Event 14 Men Pole Vault Prelims
25 Ryan Oakes 5.25m
Event 15 Men Long Jump Prelims
33 Charles White 7.47m
35 Henry Jordan 7.47m
Event 16 Men Triple Jump Prelims
25 Charles White 15.50m
29 Karique Stephen 15.37m
Event 17 Men Shot Put Prelims
38 Preston Sanders 17.41m
Event 19 Men Hammer Throw Prelims
41 Trevor Sealy 58.71m