Westfield State University senior pole vaulter Tom Gauger (Billerica) and freshman shot putter Naloti Palma (Westboro) have qualified for the NCAA Division III men’s and women’s outdoor track and field championships May 23-25 at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse.
Gauger is making his fourth trip to the national championships. He earned All-America honors twice, placing fourth in the 2013 NCAA indoor championships and eighth in the 2012 outdoor championships.
Gauger is seeded 19th in the pole vault for the 2013 outdoor championships at 4.81 meters (15-9 ¼). He set a school record by clearing 4.95 meters (16-2 ¾) at last year’s NCAA outdoor championships. He also holds the school record for indoors pole vault (16-5 ¼) and cleared 16-1/2 in placing fourth at this year’s indoor national championships.
“There are many outstanding pole vaulters in the country this year but Tom has been there (nationals) before and enjoys the challenge of competing against the best,” said Westfield pole vault coach Jason Weber.
Palma is seeded 11th in the shot put with a school record throw of 13.87 metes (45-6 ¼) when she placed fourth at the All-New England championships. She has performed well in big-meet competition, winning both the New England Division III and ECAC Division III championships.
“Competing at nationals as a freshman will be a great experience for Naloti,” said Westfield State head coach Sean O’Brien. “She just has to stay focused and relaxed. She has been peaking at the right time and consistent over the past few weeks.”
The men’s pole vault competition begins at 6:00 p.m. CST on Thursday, and the women’s shot put begins Saturday at 1:00 p.m. CST.