May 24: GULF SHORES, Ala. – Nicholas Hernandez (SO/Madera, Calif.) of Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University (Ariz.) men's track team finished in 11th with a time of 32:36.54 in the final of the men's 10,000-meter event at the 2019 NAIA Men's Outdoor Track and Field National Championships.
Hernandez is used to the big stage having already run at the 2018 Cross Country National Championships last November, but had to be fast to finish in the top five this time around. Hernandez ran with the leaders for the first 5,000 but couldn't keep up his pace towards the tail end of the race. He found himself in a tight battle for 10th as he took 11th by only 0:02.89 and narrowly finished before the 12th place time of 32:37.09.
ERAU's women will be in the mix on day two of the national championships, as both Ariana Anderson and Keili Dorn will compete in the 5000-meter trials on Friday (5/24) starting approximately at 4:10 pm MST followed by Hernandez in the same event.
May 25: GULF SHORES, Ala. – After a grueling marathon on the final day of the 2019 NAIA Men's Outdoor Track and Field National Championship, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University (Ariz.) distance track's Jordan Bramblett (SR/Cottonwood, Ariz.) outpaced everyone in route to the programs first individual national championship.
A native of Cottonwood, Bramblett came off the starting line with a cool head and a game plan. After the first checkpoint, he was narrowly out of first but only by a couple of seconds. By the time Bramblett hit the second checkpoint he already held a commanding minute-plus lead and needed to keep up the pace. By the third, he was all alone and held a five-minute lead over the pack, which he would hold onto for the remaining distance.
Racing alongside Bramblett, was Noah Kroeze (SR/Medical Lake, Wash.) who had himself quite the day as well. Kroeze finished in seventh making him an All-American too. Kroeze did his best to keep up with Bramblett's blistering pace but fell off slightly at the third checkpoint. The senior did well, finished two minutes before the eighth place runner, and was only five seconds out of sixth.
This is the first time that the Eagles have had two All-Americans in the same event in the program's short history. ERAU will stay busy as Grady Kerst (SO/Au Train, Mich.) will run in the finals of the 3000 meter steeplechase at 12:20 pm MST followed by Nicholas Hernandez (SO/Madera, Calif.) in the 5,000 meter finals.
May 25: GULF SHORES, Ala. –With a tremendous precedent set by Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University's (Ariz.) upperclassmen in the marathon it was the underclassmen's time to shine, as Grady Kerst (SO/Au Train, Mich.) became the third All-American at the 2019 NAIA Outdoor Track and Field National Championships.
Kerst had been running well leading up to the final of the 3,000-meter steeplechase and wanted to make a splash at his first national championship appearance. A pedestrian start kept Kerst in the mix early as he finished his first lap in sixth place. In the next three laps, the sophomore fell back four spots to tenth and needed to muster up a comeback. He would do so in dramatic fashion by passing three runners in the final two laps and posted a time of 1:18.60 on the final lap.
For Nicholas Hernandez (SO/Madera, Calif.) the week proved to be a tremendous learning experience and something that he can surely build on. Hernandez ran on all three days of the championships starting with the 10,000 meter on Thursday and then pairing that with back-to-back efforts in the 5,000-meter trial and final. Ultimately, Hernandez placed 14th out of the 16 racers but did so after coming off a hamstring injury that has been plaguing him for the last few meets.
Despite the Eagles only having four runners at the national championships they were still able to finish in 21st out of 127 teams in the field. That will conclude the season and careers for some of the Eagles as they begin another chapter in their lives after ERAU.