Host Texas adds five more national-meet qualifiers in delayed West prelims
The skies surrounding Mike A. Myers Stadium were gloomy throughout Friday’s action at the NCAA Division I West Preliminary Round, but that didn’t stop the Texas men’s track and field team from producing five more qualifiers in three events for the national meet.
|• Complete results|
One day after advancing three athletes in the discus and five overall, the Longhorns added three more qualifiers in the shot put headlined by national leader Ryan Crouser.
Zack Bilderback also continued his fine freshman season by advancing to the NCAA Outdoor Championships in the 400 meters.
Trevor Van Ackeren capped off the day, which technically didn’t end until Saturday, by gutting out a spot in the 3,000-meter steeplechase.
All-American Keiron Stewart, competing in his first meet since the Clyde Littlefield Texas Relays due to an injured hamstring, cruised into Saturday’s quarterfinals of the 110-meter hurdles by clocking a time of 14.02, which was second in his heat and eighth among the 48-man field.
“It felt good,” Stewart said of his first race in nearly two months. “It was good competition, although the rain delay set everyone off.”
Weather wreaked havoc with the second of the three-day meet. Unexpected strong storms caused a six-hour delay. Without an event completed, the meet was halted at roughly 2 p.m. CDT. It appeared the meet would be restarted at 5 p.m., but another band of storms with lightning rolled through Austin.
The meet finally resumed at 9 p.m. ET, causing a three-hour delay in the start of the running events, which did not conclude until just after 2 a.m. Saturday.
As expected Crouser had little trouble advancing to the NCAAs in the shot put. His toss of 62 feet, 11 1/4 inches (19.18m) on his third attempt was the best in the field. That was well off his nation’s best mark of 69-2 1/2 (21.09m), but he passed on his final three attempts.
Hayden Baillio and Will Spence had to battle to make the trip to Eugene, Ore., for the four-day (June 5-8) national meet.
Baillio nearly had his streak of seven consecutive trips to the national meet snapped.
Baillio, a senior was called for a foot foul on his first attempt, which ended up traveling 58-10.25 (17.95m). But a protest was upheld and he was able to move onto the 16-man finals where he posted a season-best 62-0.25 (18.90m) on his final toss, which ended up tying him for fifth.
Spence will make his first trip to the NCAA Outdoor meet after finishing 12th with a toss of 59-09.50 (18.22m).
Spence was hoping to also make the national meet in the discus, but was unable to advance out of Thursday’s first-round action. Crouser, Blake Jakobsson and Clint Harris made the discus field.
“I was really disappointed after [Thursday],” Spence said. “But I’m excited to be going the NCAAs.”
Bilderback survived a difficult heat to advance to the NCAAs. He had to battle the second and third-seeded 400-meter performers in Deon Lendore of Texas A&M and Kyle Clemons of Kansas.
“I went out there not concerned about time,” Bilderback said. “I merely wanted to beat people. That’s what I did. The top two guys of the event were in my heat, I knew I had to go out and compete for that third spot, especially during that last stretch.”
Bilderback was in fifth coming around the last turn but made up ground to finish third and earn an automatic qualifier.
Van Ackeren, who clocked a personal-best 8:46.05, slipped into the field by the slimmest of margins. He was third throughout much of his steeplechase heat, but had to hold off a charge down the homestretch from Mike Hardy of Weber State, who posted a time of 8:46.07 and did not make the NCAA field. The top three in each heat plus the next three best times earned berths to the NCAAs.
Austin Bussing shaved nearly seven seconds off his career best, but finished 14th overall in 8:45.55.