Three Cavaliers Advance in Opening Day of NCAAs
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – Despite a longer than anticipated wait to race, junior Stephanie Garcia fought off a three-hour rain delay and joined freshman Lance Roller and junior Meghan Briggs in advancing to the next round of their respective events on the opening day of the 2009 NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships at McDonnell Field on the University of Arkansas campus. Sophomore Steve Finley completed his season finishing 21st overall in the 3000m steeplechase.
Prior to the delay, Roller kicked things off for the Cavaliers by running a personal-best 1:47.88 in the 800m. He finished fourth in his heat, but crossed with three other competitors within half-of-a-second of each other – led by Penn State’s Ryan Foster’s winning time of 1:47.57. Roller’s time was good enough to advance him to tomorrow’s semifinals though, giving him an opportunity to vie for a spot in the nine-competitor finals. The semifinal race kicks off tomorrow at 8:25 p.m., with the top three times from each heat and the next three best times advancing to Saturday’s finals.
In the javelin, the first flight went off under perfect conditions, while Briggs’ flight had to fight through a downpour of rain. Regardless of the weather though, Briggs held tough, throwing 160′ 8″ to claim the 10th best throw of the competition, while Anna Wessman from Texas-El Paso was the top qualifier out of the event with a mark of 181′ 5″. Briggs top-12 finish was good enough to advance her to her first-ever NCAA finals appearance, set to begin at 6:30 p.m., on Friday.
Following the unexpected three-hour intermission, Garcia steadily held on to fifth place throughout the entire 3000m of the steeplechase race and held off a strong final kick from Oregon’s Claire Michel in the homestretch to advance automatically to the finals. Nicole Bush from Michigan State had the top time of the semis, finishing in 9:49.35, while Garcia ended with a time of 10:13.40 and will race again at 7:25 p.m. on Friday.
Finley, racing in his first-ever NCAA Championships, finished 21st overall in the steeplechase in 8:56.13 to conclude his season. Finley was the runner-up in the steeplechase at the East Region Championships, ACC Championships and IC4A Championships this year. He earned his first-ever all-region and All-ACC honors in the event.
The second day of semifinal events will continue tomorrow. Seniors Billie-Jo Grant and Caitlin Kelly will get things going at 11:30 a.m., in the discus, while senior Yemi Ayeni will follow them. Roller will race the 800m and freshman Morgane Gay will run the 1500m semis at 8:55 p.m., before senior Andrew Jesien concludes events at 9:10 p.m., with the 1500m. Live results and live video to the championships can be found on VirginiaSports.com.