NACOGDOCHES, TX (KTRE) - More members of the Stephen F. Austin Track and Field team are headed to the NCAA Championships.
Long jumper, Jamal Peden, is making his first trip to nationals and it's something he says he's worked 4 years to get to.
The senior's longest jump is 7.81 meters which is relatively 25.8 feet.
Peden comes into the championship meet ranked 11th and says this trip to nationals is truly a dream come true.
"This has been one of my dreams since I was a little kid and to finally have it under the belt and know that it is happening, it's been really cool to kind of process through everything," said Peden. "It really is a testament of what hard work does and belief. There's been many opportunities I've had to go, and to finally make it happen is awesome."
His coach of three years, Ron McCown, has been a witness of Peden's work, and says he couldn't be happier for him to make it to nationals.
"It's very exciting to see Jamal reach this level. Like he said, he's been close the past few years, making it to the preliminary rounds, so to see him step up as a senior and get it done this year is outstanding," said McCown.
Also tagging along is SFA's 4X400 meter relay team which consists of Cass Brown Stewart, Joshua Taylor, Hampton Hawkins, Torin Crowder and alternate Shawn Goff.
The relay team has run together for four years now and it's their third trip to the NCAA Championships together. They're hoping that this is the year they become First Team All-Americans.
The squad broke the school record, yet again, in the Western Preliminaries to qualify for the NCAA Championships when they crossed the line in 3:05.65.
At nationals you're running with the best of the best, but the team and their coach feel they can compete.
"It's so tough. There's probably 3 or 4 teams that are out there pretty good but after that, the next 15 teams are so close. It's tenths of a second so we're just wanting to go do our best and see where we fall. I'm sure we'll be pleased," said Sean Lonergan. "We'll run. I've learned that about them after 4 years, they'll go compete."
Although it's the team's last race together at nationals, they see it the same as any other meet.
"Nothing changes. It's just a different track, different state, different meaning essentially but we always have the same goal in mind and that's to run all out and run to win the race," said Taylor.
Peden and the 4X400 meter relay team will compete Thursday at the NCAA Championships which are taking place in Eugene Oregon.