Miles Dunlap has dreamt of this moment for some time.
The Kent State University junior is one of three McDonald High School graduates competing in this week's NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships at the University of Oregon.
Dunlap, a 400-meter hurdler, qualified for nationals after taking 12th at the NCAA East Region Preliminary Round in Florida with a time of 51.41 seconds.
He's been to the East Regional before, but has always come up short of nationals.
"The air was cool," said Dunlap, who will compete in the second heat of tonight's 400-meter hurdles preliminaries. "There was no wind. It was a perfect night. I was kind of sitting there. I almost got emotional. I said, 'Holy crap. I did it. I'm going.' It was definitely a big monkey off my back. I definitely will remember that for a long time."
Dunlap won't be there alone. He'll have many other KSU teammates, including former McDonald standout and roommate Matthias Tayala. The two are 2011 McDonald graduates. The duo combined to help the Blue Devils win the Ohio High School Athletic Association Division III boys team state championship in 2011.
Tayala won the shot put and discus state titles back then. Thursday, in the second of two flights, Tayala will compete in the hammer throw. He placed second at the East Region at 69.24 meters.
Only Georgia freshman Alex Poursanidis (69.28) and Oklahoma State junior Nick Miller (71.36) come in with better throws.
Tayala was named the United States Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association's Great Lakes Regional Men's Field Athlete of the Year.
Tayala said he wants to compete well and have fun, but his motivation at nationals is from his mother and father (Steve and Marianne). He placed 22nd and threw 60.29 meters last season.
"My motivation has been there since I competed here last year and didn't do what I was capable of," said Tayala, who will throw Thursday. "But also my dad always knows the perfect way to keep me motivated and wouldn't be in the position I'm in now without him and also with my mom's support of course."
Although Tayala won't be throwing shot put and discus like he did at McDonald, former Blue Devil thrower and 2010 graduate Joh'Vonnie Mosley will be on Thursday (discus) and Saturday (shot put) in Oregon.
Mosley finished fifth in the discus (55.94) and 11th in the shot put (16.39) in Florida to qualify for nationals.
She will be competing with KSU sophomore Danniel Thomas in the two events.
As for Dunlap, he'd like to get off to a good start tonight and run his best race now. He ran his season-best race to qualify for nationals in Florida of 51.41, but he had a 52.04 and squeaked into East Regional semifinals.
"I can't have any shakeups like I did at conference, at regionals - getting into the finals and having my good race. I need to have my good race on prelims day," Dunlap said.