Northern Iowa's Jacob Smith competes in the 400 hurdles at the Drake Relays Saturday.

EUGENE, Ore. — Northern Iowa sophomore Jacob Smith became the Panthers first first-team all-American since 2009 with a sixth-place showing Friday in the NCAA Division I track and field championships 400 hurdles.

Smith, of Burlington, clocked a time of 50.60 seconds.

“I could not be more proud of what Jacob has accomplished this year,” UNI head coach Dave Paulsen said. He’s as hard of a worker and as tough of a competitor as I’ve ever coached.”

Smith earned the 22nd Division I Outdoor All-American honor for the men’s track and field program since UNI moved up from Division II in 1979.

“Earning First Team All-American honors is one of the most difficult achievements in all of Division I athletics, and for him to earn that as a sophomore speaks volumes about his drive for excellence,” Paulsen said.

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He was the first finalist to represent UNI track and field in the finals of the 400-meter hurdles since Joey Woody won the title 1997. Woody continues to hold the school record (48.18), while Smith has the second-best time in UNI school history.

“Finishing sixth at the NCAA championships shows other athletes in our program as well as everyone in the country that you can achieve the highest level of success at Northern Iowa,” Paulsen said.

Smith guaranteed himself first team All-American honors with a time of 50.85 seconds in the semifinals Wednesday. His career best came at the West Preliminary Rounds in Sacramento, Calif., in a time of 50.13

Prior to Smith, UNI’s last first team All-American honors were earned by Tyler Mulder, who took third in the 800-meter run in 2009.

Southern California junior Raj Benjamin ran a championships and Hayward Field record 47.02 to win the race.

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Sports Reporter

Sports reporter for The Courier

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