SEATTLE – More than thirty Husky track and field athletes have made the cut for the first rounds of the NCAA Outdoor Championships, and will set off for Fayetteville, Arkansas next week. The University of Arkansas will be the host of the NCAA West Preliminary Championships, taking place next Thursday through Saturday, May 29-31.
The structure for the NCAA Outdoor Championships is essentially a 96-athlete bracket for every individual event that gets narrowed down over two to four rounds of competition until the national champion is crowned at the final site, which once again this year is in Eugene, Oregon from June 11-14.
In Fayetteville, the West Region athletes will go through one or two rounds of qualifying to cut the field of 48 athletes and 24 relay teams down to a final 12 that will advance to Oregon. The same process will play out simultaneously in the East Region, which will be hosted by North Florida in Jacksonville, resulting in fields of 24 athletes and relays in each event advancing to Eugene, where many events will have one more semifinal round before the finals.
The Huskies will bring 32 athletes to Fayetteville, split down the middle with 16 men and 16 women. All four of Washington’s recently crowned Pac-12 Champions will be looking to carry their momentum through to the NCAA finals. Last weekend in Pullman, Derrick Daigre won the 800-meters, Aaron Nelson won the steeplechase, and Jax Thoirs and Diamara Planell Cruz won the men’s and women’s pole vault titles. All are ranked in the top-10 of the West Region.
A number of Huskies will be making their NCAA West Prelim debuts, including four of UW’s qualifiers in the men’s 1,500-meters. Sophomore Meron Simon, redshirt freshmen Blake Nelson and Nick Harris, and sophomore Izaic Yorks will try to navigate the field. Harris took fifth at Pac-12s last week and Yorks moves up to 1,500-meters after running the 800m at Pac-12s, finishing sixth.
Also competing at Prelims for the first time is fifth-year senior Brad Whitley, whose career would have come to a close last weekend in Pullman, however he set a big PR of 1:49.64 and made the Pac-12 final for the first time, finishing seventh. That jumped him up to 26th in the 800m field. Tim Cummings makes his NCAA debut in the steeplechase as well.
Newcomers for the women include freshmen Katie Knight in the 5,000-meters, Elizabeth Quick in the pole vault, and Ashley Alexander in the javelin. Planell Cruz is ranked third in the West, but this is still the first Prelims for the junior college transfer. Junior Ashley Schnapp made the pole vault field for the first time, and junior Haley Jacobson will run on the women’s 4x400-meter relay along with Krista Armstead, Kayla Stueckle, and Gianna Woodruff.
Along with the four Husky conference champions, other Dawgs ranked in the top-12 coming into Prelims include Katie Flood (7th in the 1,500m), Knight (12th in the 5,000m), Megan Goethals and Lindsay Flanagan (3rd and 4th in the 10,000m), Woodruff and Stueckle (8th and 11th in the 400m hurdles) and Quinn Hale and Carson Fuller (4th and 10th in the javelin, respectively).
2014 NCAA West Preliminary Qualifiers
Washington Men - 16
Curtis Clauson (Edmonds, Wash.), Javelin
Kasen Covington (Boise, Idaho), Triple Jump
Tim Cummings (Yakima, Wash.), 3000m Steeplechase
Derrick Daigre (Kent, Wash.), 800m
Carson Fuller (Spokane, Wash.), Javelin
Quinn Hale (Tacoma, Wash.), Javelin
Nick Harris (Niwot, Colo.), 1500m
J.J. Juilfs (Eugene, Ore.), Pole Vault
A.J. Maricich (Spokane, Wash.), High Jump
Aaron Nelson (Walla Walla, Wash.), 3000m Steeplechase
Blake Nelson (Mill Creek, Wash.), 1500m
Meron Simon (Federal Way, Wash.), 1500m
Jax Thoirs (Glasgow, Scotland), Pole Vault
Brad Whitley (Liberty Lake, Wash.), 800m
Chris Williams (Philadelphia, Pa.), 110m Hurdles
Izaic Yorks (Lakewood, Wash.), 1500m
Washington Women - 16
Ashley Alexander (Monroe, Wash.), Javelin
Krista Armstead (Albuquerque, N.M.), 4x400m Relay
Lindsay Flanagan (Roselle, Ill.), 10000m
Katie Flood (Des Moines, Wash.), 1500m
Eleanor Fulton (Lone Tree, Colo.), 1500m
Megan Goethals (Rochester, Mich.), 10000m
Haley Jacobson (Bellevue, Wash.), 4x400m Relay
Katie Knight (Spokane, Wash.), 5000m
Shaniae Lakes (Richland, Wash.), Triple Jump
Liberty Miller (Simi Valley, Calif.), 3000m Steeplechase
Kristina Owsinski (Ridgefield, Wash.), Pole Vault
Diamara Planell Cruz (Bayamon, Puerto Rico), Pole Vault
Elizabeth Quick (Richland, Wash.), Pole Vault
Ashley Schnapp (Oregon City, Ore.), Pole Vault
Kayla Stueckle (Puyallup, Wash.), 400m Hurdles, 4x400m Relay
Gianna Woodruff (Los Angeles, Calif.), 400m Hurdles, 4x400m Relay