BUFFALO, NY – A program-record three male athletes for the University at Buffalo track and field team qualified for the NCAA Championships at the historic Hayward Field in Eugene, OR on June 11-14. Jonathan Jones (Shot Put) qualified for the Outdoor Championships for the second straight year while sophomores Mike Morgan (Decathlon) and Ryan Billian (Long Jump) will be competing for the first time in their young careers.
Jones has now competed in the NCAA Championships in each season since joining the Bulls as a sophomore (two indoor, two outdoor). The Portville, NY native shattered his own school record and MAC record in the shot put at the NCAA East Region Preliminaries last week with a throw that traveled 66'04.50" (20.22m). Jones placed fourth at the prelims and enters the final championships as the fifth overall seed in the event. As a sophomore, Jones earned first team All-American honors as he finished in fourth place overall.
"I'm really excited," stated Jones. "Nationals is the big stage and to be able to compete there in back-to-back season's is a great accomplishment. I want to just go out and throw as far as I can and bring a shot put title home with me. It will be even better to be able to represent the blue and the white in front of a national stage."
Morgan earned his spot in the championships in the hardest event of all, the decathlon. Following his record breaking MAC Championship victory in the event, Morgan punched his ticket straight to Oregon, forgoing the NCAA East Region Preliminaries. The Ontario, NY native won the MAC title with a school record 7,966 points. He enters the Championships as the seventh ranked competitor in the NCAA.
"It means a lot to me to qualify for Nationals as a sophomore," said Morgan. "I put up a big score at the MAC Championships to earn the spot and hopefully I can duplicate that effort and win a nation title in the decathlon."
Billian saved his best jump of his young career for his final effort at the East Region Preliminaries as he recorded his first ever NCAA Championship berth in the long jump. In only his first season of the event, Billian shattered the Bulls school record that has stood since 2006 with a leap of 25'00.50" (7.63m) en route to a sixth place finish. He goes to Eugene as the 11th ranked athlete in the long jump.
"Qualifying for the National Championships is a huge accomplishment for me especially since this is my first season competing in the long jump at the college level," stated Billian. "I sat in 16th place entering my final jump at the prelims and I had the best jump of my career to earn a sixth place finish and a spot in the Championships. I couldn't be more excited for the opportunity to compete on the biggest stage."
Morgan will kick off the Championships for the Bulls on Wednesday as he opens the decathlon with the 100m dash at 11:30 am. He will wrap up day one with the long jump, shot put, high jump and 400m run. Jones will be in action on Wednesday at 5:30 pm in the shot put while Billian will compete in the long jump on Thursday at 4:30 pm.