Johnson City Press: Milligan produces national champion in Brown, four All-Americans
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Milligan produces national champion in Brown, four All-Americans

Johnson City Press • May 25, 2019 at 10:56 PM

GULF SHORES, Ala.—The third and final day of the NAIA Outdoor Track & Field National Championships was much to Milligan’s liking.

Freshman hurdler Rasheem Brown won the national title in the 110-meter hurdles and sophomore Tim Thacker earned All-American status in the 1,500 meters to highlight Saturday afternoon’s activity for the Buffs. This happened after a pair of marathoners, Tyler Bates and Hunter Lewis, earned All-American in the morning.

"It's so much fun to work with this staff and this team, and that makes these championships such a pleasure to be a part of," Buffs coach Chris Layne said. "They support each other, they guide each other, and this is a young bunch with a very bright future."

The weekend saw Milligan's cross-country/track & field program win its eighth national title, earn its 88th NAIA All-American and finish in the top 25 for the 27th time since Layne took over the program in 1999. The event marked the end of Layne's 20th season at Milligan.

The Milligan men finished 14th, jumping 20 spots from their previous national rank.

Brown does it again

Brown continued his outstanding freshman season with the top mark, a Milligan record, in the 110-meter hurdles on the way to winning his second national title in the last two months.

His time of 13.95 was 0.10 seconds faster than the runner-up and good for a personal best in his signature event.

"I was extremely proud of Rasheem today," Layne said. "It was far from a clean race and he kept his composure, and I think that speaks volumes about his mindset as a freshman."

Brown followed with the outdoor title in the 110 hurdles after winning his first NAIA title in the 60-meter hurdles during indoor season. The outdoor title marked the third national title for Milligan's track & field program in the last two years and the seventh national title in the last three-plus years.

Thacker runs to fourth place

The day featured blistering heat, and no one felt it worse than Thacker and the competitors in the 1,500 meters.

Thacker used a quick last 400 meters to finish in 3:55, good for fourth and his second All-American honor of the spring semester.

"Tim pretty much missed the entire cross-country season, so to still have gas in the tank really speaks to his talent level," Layne said. "He's starting to learn how to race, and I think once he gets a full summer and fall under his belt, we'll see him take another step."

Thacker's previous All-American experience this season came indoors, when he finished runner-up in the mile.

Buffs crush marathon

Bates and Lewis led the pack as all five Buffs on the men's side finished in the top 30. Andrew Burton was ninth, Eli Baldy 13th and Cory Aulich 28th for Milligan while Stephanie Coffey ran to 14th on the women's side.

"I'm so proud of our marathoners," Layne said. "They've worked so hard all year, and they showed tremendous control throughout the entire race."

Indeed, the Buffs picked off much of the rest of the field during the second half of the race. Bates ran 2:43:30.89; Lewis 2:46:34.12, Burton 2:47:58.11, Baldy 2:52:34.58 and Aulich 2:59:09.82.

Coffey ran 3:28:26.50, 21 minutes off the lead and seven minutes off All-American status.

Ferguson, Baker round out highlights

The final day of the national championships also saw Nathan Baker (5k) and Tons Ferguson (men’s triple jump) compete.

While Baker ran a 15:13.69 to finish 11th, Ferguson notched a 13.65 for a 24th-place showing.

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