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Cowboys, Cowgirls focused on distance medley relay qualification

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Kaela Edwards

Kaela Edwards will race for the first time this weekend since she set the collegiate record in the 1,000 meters.

The track season is fresh, but Oklahoma State is already looking ahead.

Starting Friday at the Razorback Invitational, coach Dave Smith will send his best runners in hopes to qualify for the NCAA Indoor Track and Field Championships.

Kaela Edwards will anchor the distance medley relay team for the women, and Josh Thompson will run the final leg for the men.

It will be Edwards’ first race since she set the collegiate record in the 1,000 meters.

“(Setting the record) hasn’t really changed anything,” Edwards said. “I think the change came when I decided to see myself as a different athlete this year. Because I hope to transition to going pro next year, I’ve changed my mindset this year.

“I’m seeing myself at a higher level because I think I need to have that mindset to reach the goals I have.”

Smith said he is focused on those DMR teams and getting them qualified.

To qualify for the NCAA Championships, a relay team must have a top-12 time, and individuals must be in the top 24 to advance.

OSU could record a qualifying time, but there's no guarantee it would remain in the top 12.

Earning a qualifying time in the DMR has not been a challenge for OSU, though. The Cowboys have qualified for the final race in each of the past four years, and the Cowgirls qualified for the title race in 2016.

In the 2016 edition of the Razorback Invitational, the Cowgirls’ qualification mark was 11 minutes and 1.15 seconds, a school record.

Smith said he is also focused on qualifying individual athletes as well.

“We’re going to run Chelsea Jarvis, Savannah Camacho and Ariane Ballner (in the 800 meters),” Smith said. “A lot of people have a shot in the 800. We’ll also have some people in the Mile who have a shot.”

The meet starts at 11:30 a.m. Friday in Fayetteville, Arkansas, with the pentathlon events going first. Competition will conclude Saturday at 4:45 p.m. with the women’s 4x400-meter relay.

Aurora Dybedokken, Abbie Hetherington and Anna Boyert will run in the Mile Invitational, while Kaytlyn Larson will run in the non-Invitational section.

Matthew Fayers will compete in the Mile Invitational, and Brigham Hedges and Sukhi Kholsa will run in the non-Invitational section.

Jacob Fincham-Dukes will race in the 60-meter hurdles and compete in the long jump.

Michelle Magnani, Big 12 Newcomer of the Year in cross-country, will compete in the women’s 3,000-meter run invitational along with two-time All-Big 12 runner Molly Sughroue.

The 3,000-meter run Invitational is stacked with Cowboys. Craig Nowak, Josh Thompson, Sylvester Barus and Hassan Abdi will race.

“(Running with teammates) helps a lot because we’re so used to running in front of (one another) or behind (one another) in practice,” Nowak said. “It definitely adds a little comfort.”

sports@ocolly.com