CHADRON, Neb. -- It took a while before the good news was officially posted, but the Chadron State College men's 4x100 relay team has qualified for the NCAA Division II National Track and Field Championships that will take place May 23-25 at Emporia, Kan.
The Eagles placed third in the race at the Lopers Twilight Meet, also known as a "last chance meet," on Saturday afternoon in Kearney in 39.88 seconds.  That's the Chadron State record and is the sixth fastest time of the 2024 season in Division II.  The 12 relay teams from across the nation with the fastest times qualify for the national meet.
The CSC relay runners were Morgan FawverEsosa IyengunmwenaRyan Clapper and Quincy Efeturi.
"It's amazing that we ran so well," said Jake Gruver, the Eagles' first-year head track and field coach. "We had our secret weapon, Morgan Fawver, available, we had good handoffs and the weather was beautiful. Anytime you dip below 40 seconds it's a big deal."
Pittsburg State of Kansas won the 4x100 at Kearney in 39.39 seconds. That's fastest time in DII in this year. Central Missouri was second in 39.69 and the Eagles were third with their 39.88.  Colorado-Colorado Springs, which won the RMAC championship two weeks ago, was fourth at 40.06.
There was a similar "last chance meet" hosted by Concordia University at Seward, Neb., on Friday. Its 4x100 relay entries included Northwest Missouri State, which before this weekend had the fastest DII time of 39.79. The Bearcats won that race in 39.60, Emporia State was second in 40.23 and Chadron State was third in 40.37.
Gruver said the CSC handoffs weren't quite as smooth in the first race as they were in the second.
Following the two meets, Pittsburg State is the national leader with its 39.39 and Northwest Missouri is second with its 39.60. They are followed by Central Missouri, 39.69; Albany State of New York, 39.74; Alabama State at Huntsville, 39.80; and Chadron State, 39.88. Tiffin of Ohio is seventh, 39.94.
It's ironic that it was Gruver, who as a senior in 2011. anchored the Eagles' 4x100 relay team which had owned the school record of 40.50 seconds until Saturday.
The coach was excited when CSC's 4x100 relay team opened the 2024 outdoor season at Pueblo, Colo., on March 23 with a time of 40.73, the second fastest in school history.

That foursome continued to run well while placing second at two major meets, but suffered a setback when one of its original members, Cole Perkins, suffered a pulled hamstring prior to the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference Championships in late April.
Since spring practice was over, Gruver made arrangements to "borrow" CSC's all-conference wide receiver Tommy Thomas from the football team to fill in for Perkins. However, Thomas also had a hamstring problem while running the opening leg of the relay at the RMAC Meet and the Eagles' first handoff never happened. 
Gruver never gave up. He knew about the "last chance" opportunities. He needed to find another mercurial sprinter. 
He sought out the guy he called the "secret weapon." That's Fawver, perhaps the fastest person on campus when he's healthy. Early this past season Fawver competed only a couple of times during the indoor season before going on the injury list. But he had faithfully rehabilitated, eagerly embraced the opportunity and ran opening 100 meters last weekend.

Gruver said the McCook native got the Eagles off to great starts both times.
Two of the other relay team members—Iyengunmwena and Efeturi—are from Nigeria.  Clapper is at graduate of Southeast High School at Yoder, Wyo. All three have at least two more years of eligibility.
Besides Gruver, whose hometown is Cheyenne, Wyo., the other members of Chadron State's record-setting relay in 2011 were Brandon Segelke of Sidney, Karl McFarlane of Jamaica and Phil Rivera of Apple Valley, Calif.  Their 40.50 mark won the RMAC championship and qualified for the national championships at Turlock, Calif., where they finished sixth in 41.10 seconds after also placed sixth in the preliminaries in 41.00.
Two more 2024 Eagles also competed at the "last chance" meets last weekend. Both had some impressive marks, but did not improve their chance of qualifying for nationals. Recent graduate Alec Penfield, the high jumper from Lusk, went 6-5 ½ at Concordia and matched his career-best of 6-7 ¼ at Kearney.  Redshirt freshman Chayton Bynes of Chadron triple jumped 47-11 to place third at Concordia and went 45-2 at UNK before fouling on his final four jumps.
There was lots of competition at both meets.  There were two 7-foot high jumper at each meet, including Nebraska-Kearney's Brayden Sorensen who topped 7-1 ½, and a few of the triple jumpers approached the 50-foot mark.