Written by Student Assistant Christian Bond
TACOMA, Wash. - For Pacific Lutheran University student-athletes Brad Hodkinson and Machaela Graddy, the 2017 NCAA Division III Track & Field Championships won't be too big of a stage on Thursday in Ohio, as both head to the meet with national championship experience from earlier in the year.
Hodkinson is an outstanding distance runner for the Lutes, qualifying for nationals in the 10,000-meter run. His best time came on March 4 at the Erik Anderson Memorial Icebreaker with a time of 30 minutes, 23.02 seconds, an effort that currently ranks as the 16th fastest time in Division III. In the fall, Hodkinson competed at the NCAA Division III Cross Country Championships.
"I've been lucky to have the opportunity to compete at the national meet for cross country two times and I've learned that at nationals it's really good competition compared to the competition in our region," Hodkinson said. "Having the experience competing with high level competition will definitely help me moving forward to track nationals, I know what to expect, and I'm prepared for the competition."
Hodkinson finished 35th in the nation for cross country back in November, earning All-American honors. In the spring, he was named Northwest Conference Runner of the Year after winning conference titles in the 1,500-meters, 5,000-meters, and 10K.
"I'm excited to get the opportunity to compete at track nationals and I think it will be a really neat experience," Hodkinson said. "I think I'm as prepared as possible to hurt for 25 laps."
Graddy will compete in javelin at the NCAA Track & Field Championships. It will be the first time the junior has made it nationals during the spring in her career. Graddy finished second at the NWC Championships in the javelin and ranks 22nd in the nation with a toss of 135 feet, four inches.
Like Hodkinson, Graddy experienced the national stage in the fall as a member of the women's soccer team and is trying to take what she learned through her team sport experience and apply it to her individual efforts.
"I learned not to make it bigger than it is and to stick to the same process," Graddy said. "It's another opportunity to learn and grow, and as long as you keep doing what you have been doing, you can factor out all of the extra factors that come along at a national stage."
Graddy played a significant role in sending the PLU women's soccer team to the NCAA Tournament last November. Graddy scored 13 goals, contributing 34 points (goals count as two points, assists one) for a Lute team that finished undefeated in the regular season for the first time in program history. She received Northwest Conference Offensive Player of the Year honors as well as First Team All-Region recognition.
"I'm excited," Graddy said. "There's of course been a lot of pressure to throw qualifying marks, but going in and not having that pressure makes it so exciting. Plus not having to worry about any school work will allow me to keep my focus solely on javelin which is a first for the season."
Both Hodkinson and Graddy will compete on Thursday at the NCAA Championships held at the SPIRE Institute in Geneva, Ohio. Hodkinson will compete at 10:45 a.m. (Eastern Time) in the 10K while Graddy will compete at 3 p.m. in the javelin.