On Saturday, Tyler Alverson of the track and field team finished 16th out of 60 runners in the men’s marathon at the NAIA track and field national championships in Gulf State Park in Orange Beach, Ala.

The race began at 6 a.m., with the temperature in the 70s, though with predictably very high humidity. By 7:30, the temperature had risen into the 90s, and many runners were dropping out of the race due to heat and humidity. In all, 17 out of 60 men and 12 out of 51 women did not finish the race. (The men’s and women’s races are run at the same time.)

Like most of the runners, Alverson was not unaffected by the heat. His pace during the final five to six miles of the race increased significantly. With his toughness and training, along with encouragement from teammates, friends, and family who spread out along the seven-mile course to cheer him on, Alverson crossed the finish line in 2:54:46.14.

Jordan Bramblett of Embry-Riddle Arizona won the race by a wide margin with a time of  2:33:43.33.

“I’m so proud of Tyler. He’s a great runner,” coach Derrick Spradlin said. “The first two-thirds of the race he executed perfectly, and once the heat hit, his grit and determination were on full display. With runners dropping out all over the place, everything in his body was telling him to stop, but he found it in himself to keep going. His default setting is to run. It showed today.

“I was very happy with the support team, too. We had Coach (Lona) Bolton and her husband (Shawn), and Adam Dunlap, Sam Elliott, Matthew Holder, Philip Brock, Cheyenne Sellars, Leslie Fletcher, and some of Tyler’s family and friends all there to give him electrolytes, energy gels, water, and cold sponges at the designated aid stations along the course. Tyler obviously did the hard work out there, but the rest of the team performed well, too.”

Alverson was the first American Midwest Conference runner to finish the marathon, a strong follow-up to his All-Conference performance in the 10K at the AMC championships in April. This was Alverson’s first marathon.

Alverson is the first FHU athlete to qualify for the national track & field championship since Freed-Hardeman began the track program in 2017. He qualified by finishing a half marathon under the qualification time set by the NAIA. Alverson has qualified for the cross country national championship in each of the past two fall semesters.

With the end of the track and field season, next up for Alverson and the rest of the long distance runners on the team will be the 2019 cross country season, which begins in August.

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