More than 1,200 athletes from across the nation will compete in the NAIA Outdoor Track & Field Championship later this month.

And 22 of them will be representing the University of Saint Mary.

The championship meet, which will feature more than 150 colleges and universities, will be held May 24-26 in Gulf Shores, Alabama.

The Spires will have 18 men and four women competing in a variety of events in the three-day championship.

The USM men’s team is currently ranked sixth in the nation in NAIA, the highest ranking ever for the program.

“This is the most complete track team we have ever had,” said USM coach Alstin Benton. “We have athletes qualified in every event except the 800 and the 5K. We have never been this deep before.”

Benton said several freshman athletes have been impressive this season, adding to the depth of the team.

“We are moving in the right direction,” he said.

Anterrion McClain qualified in the 100 (10.48), 200 (21.03) and the 4x100 relay (21.03). He holds the school record in each of those events.

Christian Graham and Tony Weber will compete in the 10K and the marathon. Graham won the marathon at last year’s meet.

“They have good chances of scoring a bunch of points for us at nationals,” Benton said.

Philip Lagemann qualified in the 1,500 and 4x800 and could be an important point producer for the Spires.

Tisian Nealy will compete in the women’s 200 and 400. She holds the school record in both of those events.

Benton said the Spires have always had high hopes for individual performers in past appearances at the national meet. But he said the squad also is looking to perform at a high level as a team.

“We have a real team focus on this team,” he said. “They are competing for themselves, for the team and for the university.”