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Oklahoma State’s elite set for NCAA Indoor Championships

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Jacob Fincham-Dukes’

Oklahoma State's Jacob Fincham-Dukes has relied on his family, coaching and a chance encounter to become one of great Cowboy jumpers.

The grueling months of training and competing culminate this weekend for Oklahoma State track and field’s three qualifiers Friday and Saturday in Birmingham, Alabama at the NCAA Indoor Championships.

Jacob Fincham-Dukes, Ashton Hicks and the women’s distance medley relay are the three representatives for the orange and black this weekend.

Fincham-Dukes, OSU veteran long-jumper, comes into the meet with a jump of 7.99 meters. He is tied with the fourth-best mark in long jump in the nation. The three-time All-American said he believes this could be his year.

“This is really going to be all or nothing,” Fincham-Dukes said. “I really feel like I could win this year so to finish my senior year as a national indoor champion would mean everything.”

Fincham-Dukes will look to repeat his success from the Big 12 Indoor Championships where he came out on top and broke the school record that he held.

The men’s long jump will be at 5:30 p.m on Friday.

On the opposite end of the age spectrum Ashton Hicks, a true freshman, is in position to make some noise in the men’s 400 meter.

Hicks will race in his first NCAA Indoor Championship. His school-record breaking time of 45.71 (converted to 45.60 for altitude) has him ranked seventh in the nation.

The school-record holder said he feels a little bit like an underdog entering the meet but hopes to put on a solid performance.

“Looking at the times and all the juniors and seniors it makes a statement whenever you’re a freshman coming up to a big meet like this going in with the times that you have. I feel like if I go and put on a show it will shock some people,” Hicks said.

Hicks will race in the men’s 400 meter semifinal at 6:42 p.m on Friday.

The women’s DMR enters NCAA Indoors with the highest rank for OSU. The Cowgirls relay is ranked number two in the nation and will aim for a national title. About one and half seconds separates OSU from first-ranked Michigan.

The DMR team is like the other OSU qualifiers setting a school record this year. At the University of Washington Invitational the team crushed the school record by six seconds and at the time set a nation-best time.

Nicolette Dixon, Kaylee Dodd, Sinclaire Johnson and Molly Sughroue will race for the Cowgirls. This will be the final indoor races for seniors Dodd and Sughroue.

Sughroue said she has had her mind set on the DMR since last year’s NCAA Indoor Championships when she chose to run the mile instead of the relay.

“I didn’t make the mile final and it was great to watch the girls (DMR) but it just made me think immediately in that moment that I want to do the DMR next year,” Sughroue said.

Dave Smith, Director of Cross Country and Track and Field, said the DMR team has a chance to win as good as anybody and it will come down to the anchor of the relay.

“The person who is anchoring and who has the baton at the end has to be like Michael Jordan at the end of a basketball game,” Smith said. “They have to want to have that pressure and realize you're carrying the team.”

The women’s DMR will race at 8:47 p.m Saturday.

For the seniors competing, their entire racing or jumping career comes down to this moment. Sughroue said this is what it is all about.

“Five years of sacrifice that I gave twenty-plus hours a week and it’s all for little moments like this and it’s definitely worth it,” Sughroue said.

sports.ed@ocolly.com