Texas qualifies seven for national meet during weather-plagued prelims
AUSTIN, Texas -– Following a more-than-six-hour weather delay on Friday at the West Preliminary Round, No. 11 Texas saw seven of its athletes earn a spot in the field for the NCAA Outdoor Championships.
|• Friday's Results|
Seniors Chalonda Goodman and Natasha Masterson, juniors Danielle Dowie, Briana Nelson and Shanay Briscoe, sophomore Kaitlin Petrillose and freshman Courtney Okolo each finished in the top 12 in their events to guarantee themselves the right to compete at the national meet in Eugene, Ore., June 5-8.
The second of three days of the West Regional unfolded slowly, as rain and thunderstorms halted competition for the majority of the afternoon and evening. With each event being contested three or more hours behind schedule, the Longhorns laid the foundation for their NCAA Championship team and also qualified three more into Saturday’s quarterfinals.
“I really feel like we’re peaking at the right time,” interim head coach Rose Brimmer said. “All season long I’ve been telling the girls that we have to be patient. You have to climb the ladder to be in the right place at the right time. You want to get better and better every meet, and this meet just proves that we’re right on time.”
Okolo and Nelson were both top-10 finishers out of the 400 meters quarterfinal. After setting a personal best of 52.13 seconds in her first-round heat on Thursday as the only freshman to advance out of the first round in the event, Okolo bettered her mark with a third-place, 52.04 performance Friday evening to qualify for nationals. The race marked the third time in four in which she has improved on her career best, and the time moved her up to ninth in the event on UT’s All-Time Outdoor Performers’ List.
Nelson advanced to NCAA Outdoors in the 400m for the second time in her career with the sixth-best overall quarterfinal time of 52.69. The mark was her third-fastest of the season.
Texas also qualified a pair for Eugene in pole vault in Petrillose and Masterson. With 15 competitors remaining at 4.11 meters (13-5.75), both cleared to tie for seventh and advance to nationals. Petrillose, the 2012 Big 12 indoor and outdoor champion and school record-holder in the event both indoors and outdoors, will head to the national championship meet after placing 12th at NCAA Indoors in February. Masterson will make her first appearance at the nationals after placing fourth at the Big 12 meet earlier this month with a season-best mark of 13-7.75.
For the third time in as many years, Dowie will compete at the NCAA outdoor meet in the 400-meter hurdles. Dowie crossed the finish line first in the opening quarterfinal heat with a time of 56.68, the third-fastest mark overall. Freshman Melissa Gonzalez also ran in the quarterfinals and finished 16th in 59.42.
Goodman advanced to NCAAs in the 100 meters for the third time in her career. She finished third in the opening quarterfinal heat in a time of 11.68 to pick up the automatic qualification.
Also earning a trip to her third NCAA outdoor meet was Briscoe in high jump. With 14 jumpers left at 1.75 meters (5-8.75), Briscoe was unable to clear but tied for sixth by virtue of number of misses. She is a four-time All-American in the event indoors and outdoors and won her fourth and fifth Big 12 high jump titles in 2013.
In the 3,000-meter Steeplechase, junior Brittany Marches missed out on a nationals qualification but crossed the finish line in 10:30.77, breaking the UT record for the fourth time. Marches originally posted a program-best mark in the event at the 2012 Mt. SAC Relays (10:40.45) and bettered it at the 2012 Big 12 Championships and 2013 Texas Relays before improving upon it again Friday.
Texas also had three move on to Saturday quarterfinals, including Okolo and Goodman in the 200 meters. Okolo ran a season-best 23.56 and was an automatic qualifier, while Goodman crossed in 23.58 to advance on time. Sophomore Morgan Snow ran a 13.63 in the 100-meter hurdles, the second-fastest time in the second heat and 10th-fastest overall.
The Longhorns will also compete in the 4x100-meter and 4x400-meter relays on Saturday and senior Mia Behm and junior Sara Sutherland will set their sights on the national meet in the 5,000 meters.