GULF SHORES, Ala. – Freed-Hardeman has seen seven different individual runners compete for an NAIA National Championship, five in cross country and two in outdoor track and field. For the first time in program history, the Lions had three different student-athletes competing for a national title – all in the half-marathon.
Madison Grant is the first female athlete from FHU to qualify for the championship race. This is not the first time the sophomore has broken that barrier, being the first Lady Lion to compete in the NAIA Cross Country Championship in the fall.
Grant’s 1:36:25 half-marathon at the National Championship had her place 22nd.
Matthew Ray saw his collegiate track and field career come to a satisfying conclusion. With a 47th place finish, Ray’s 1:19:47 puts a cap on the spring season with one more year of eligibility to compete in the fall’s cross country campaign.
Placing the highest of any Lion in program history was Nathan Mangrum’s 10th place finish. Mangrum set a new personal record in addition to a new school record with a blistering 1:11:49 half-marathon finish.
“The team is moving in the right direction,” head coach Derrick Spradlin said. “Each year the team seems to build off of the previous year’s team, and that’s been the case for quite a while now. These kinds of firsts show our current athletes that they are part of that building process and that their legacy on the team is the continual growth and improvement of the team. It also shows them that they belong out there with the best athletes in the country.”
Looking forward to the 2022-23 seasons, Spradlin continued, “With the three who competed today and with the rest of the team, I’m eager to see how they improve, both individually and as a team. We have a good bunch of freshmen coming in, and I’m excited to see our current team model for them how to be a successful athlete at Freed.”
“The chemistry on the team is really good right now. They push themselves really hard and are setting high expectations for themselves, and they do it while being able to smile and joke around and have fun with each other. So many of them are leaders in their own ways, and they represent Freed well, and they make my job fun.”