Despite running its third fastest time, the Chadron State College men's 4x100 relay team did not qualify for Saturday's finals at the NCAA Division II National Track and Field Championships at Emporia, Kan., Thursday afternoon.

The Eagles completed the race in 40.63 seconds, but that was the slowest in the two heats, which had a total of 13 teams.  

Chadron State Coach Jake Gruver noted that while he and his athletes were disappointed with their placing, it was not a bad time or a bad performance. 

"We didn't execute all of our handoffs perfectly and we have run faster, but neither did we do poorly.  We never ran that fast during the regular season.  It wasn't until we entered the two last chance meets two weeks ago that we had better times than we had Thursday. 

"We have to remember that we were running against some great athletes and teams. Most of them have a lot more experience," the coach added. "Our goal will be to get back nationals next year.  All four of our runners Thursday have at least two more years of eligibility."

Chadron State's school record in the 4x100 had been 40.50 seconds since 2011 when the relay that Gruver anchored when he was a senior won the event at the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference Meet. It qualified the Eagles for the DII Championships in California, where they placed sixth in 41.10 seconds.

The old school record was broken on May 10 during a meet at Concordia in Seward, Neb., where the Eagles completed the trip around the track 40.33 seconds.  The next afternoon in Kearney, they lowered that mark by about a half second to 39.88 seconds.  That was the sixth fastest in Division II prior to nationals and qualified the Eagles for the trip to Emporia.

The preliminaries at nationals was won by Central Missouri State in 39.67 seconds, followed by West Texas A&M in 39.72, followed by Northwest Missouri at 39.70 and Pittsburg State of Kansas in 39.89.

The remaining four finals qualifiers--Albany State of New York, Alabama-Huntsville, Minnesota State-Mankato and Grand Valley State of Michigan—were  between 40.03 and 40.13 seconds.  

Chadron State's relay team members Thursday were Cole Perkins, Esosa Iyangunmwena, Ryan Clapper and Quincy Efeturi.  Perkins is from Laramie, Wyo., Clapper is from Veteran, Wyo., and Iyangunmwena and Efeturi are from Nigeria.  

During the two last chance meets, Morgan Fawver of McCook ran the first leg in place of Perkins, who was bothered by a hamstring ailment. Fawver has long been considered the fastest member of entire Chadron State team when he's healthy, but Gruver said Fawver could not run again this week because of leg problems.

"He used up his best two races," the coach said. "He helped us get to nationals but that was it."

Fawver, who also long jumped 24-4 ½ during the 2024 indoor season, has concluded his track and field eligibility and graduated. He will be the Eagles' jumps coach beginning next season.