Nine Trojans Advance To Nationals During Day 2 Of West Preliminary Rounds

    Oluwakemi Olonade and Melia Cox advanced to the NCAA Championships in the triple jump.

    May 30, 2014

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    FAYETTEVILLE, ARK. - Aaron Brown and BeeJay Lee in the 100m, Jessica Davis and Tynia Gaither in the 100m, Vanessa Jones in the 400m, Amalie Iuel in the 400m IH, Alexandra Collatz in the discus throw and Oluwakemi Olonade and Melia Cox in the triple jump all punched their tickets to the 2014 NCAA Track & Field Championships during the second day of the NCAA Track & Field West Preliminary Rounds hosted by Arkansas at John McDonnell Field in Fayetteville, Ark. today (May 30). The 2014 NCAA Track & Field Championships will be held in Eugene, Ore. from June 11-14.

    The day was supposed to start for the Trojans with All-American hammer thrower Remington Conatser competing in the men's hammer throw prelims and quarterfinals in the morning, but Conatser had an emergency appendectomy Monday night and was not cleared to compete. Conatser was scratched from the West Preliminary Rounds and thus out of contention for the NCAA hammer title. Conatser was not the only Trojan derailed by injury, as 200m runner and 4x100m relay anchor Davonte Stewart was scratched due to the left hamstring issue he suffered at the Pac-12 Championships.

    Despite these setbacks before the competition began, the Trojans still had a solid day with nine athletes today earning the right to compete at the NCAA Championships.

    Senior Aleec Harris got things rockin' for the Trojans by cruising to victory in his 110m HH heat with a time of 13.70 (-1.3) to automatically advance to tomorrow's quarterfinals. The senior's time ended up being the fifth-fastest on the day.

    Things did not go as smoothly in the women's sprint hurdles. The junior Cox and the Pac-12 champion senior Lauren Blackburn were in the third heat. Cox took second place with a time of 13.68 (-0.9) to automatically advance to tomorrow's quarterfinals. Blackburn, however, clipped the sixth hurdle and tumbled to the track and did not finish. Cox had the seventh-fastest qualifying time.

    The senior Olonade got off to a great start in the women's triple jump. She competed in the second flight which went on simultaneously with the first flight, with the top 24 qualifiers to go in the third and fourth flights. First she jumped 40-11.00/12.47 (-1.2) to take over the lead in the first two flights, then kept adding on. Her next jump went for 41-1.75/12.54m (-1.4) and then she launched a slight PR of 41-8.75/12.72m (+1.1) which bettered her ninth-place standing on USC's all-time list. That jump got her into the finals in seventh and she didn't have or need a better one and finished ninth to advance to the NCAA Championships. Cox's path to Eugene was a little more convoluted. Her second jump was her only clean jump in the first three rounds and was originally recorded at 41-6, good for 11th and into the quarterfinals. It was her best jump of the day. By the time the last three jumps were made she had fallen to 15th, one spot out of advancing. After the event when the marks were checked, it was realized that she had jumped 41-7.75/12.69m (+0.4) in her second attempt which moved her into 11th place and also onto Eugene for the championships.

    Senior Herb Dew started the men's high jump competition with two misses at 6-7.50 (2.02m) before clearing that in his third attempt. He then cleared 6-9.50 (2.07m) in his first attempt, but could not hold onto the momentum and missed three times at 6-11.50 (2.12m). Dew finished the competition in 24th place.

    Junior Alexandra Collatz and sophomore Tera Novy were both in the fhird and final flight of the women's discus throw competition. The top throw from the first two flights was 173-9 and a total of three women threw over 170 feet. Novy started out the third flight with a foul and Collatz had a throw of 175-0 (53.34m) to temporarily take the lead. Novy then fouled in her second attempt as did Collatz, so after two rounds, Collatz was in fourth and Novy needed a strong third throw. Novy responded with a solid legal throw of 164-6 (50.14m), but that only landed her in 19th place, with the top 16 earning three more throws. Last season Novy's mark would have made it to the final rounds. Collatz fouled again and stood in fifth place entering the finals. Collatz had a best throw of 177-4 (54.06m) in her fifth throw and finished fifth overall and onto the NCAA Championships.

    USC had the junior Jones and senior Ashley Liverpool qualified for the women's 400m quarterfinals, with Jones running in the first heat and Liverpool in the third. Jones automatically advanced to the NCAA semifinals in Eugene by placing third in the first heat with a time of 53.15. Liverpool was in the final heat and finished seventh, 16th overall, with a time of 53.46.

    Next up was the senior Brown and junior Lee in the men's 100m dash and they made sure they were going to Oregon without anxiety. First, Brown won the first heat with a season-best time of 10.12 (+0.8) which was second-best overall and the top wind-legal time. Lee then took third in the second heat with a season-best wind-aided time of 10.16 (+2.7w) to automatically advance.

    The women's 100m dash quarterfinals was a tighter and more confusing battle. Sophomore Tynia Gaither ran 11.63 (-1.2) to take third in the first heat and automatically advance. The second heat featured the senior Davis and sophomore Alexis Faulknor. After two false starts, Davis ran 11.52 (+0.4) to finish fourth and Faulknor 11.61 (+0.4) to finish sixth in the second heat. With one heat to go, they had the first and third non-automatic qualifying times. Senior Loudia Laarman ran in the third and final heat and finished fifth with a time of 11.5230 (-0.1). That time was .008 behind the 11th place finisher Tiffani McReynolds of Baylor (11.522/+0.4w) which was crucial, as Gaither's automatic qualifying time pushed Laarman into the first spot out of advancing to the finals despite having the 12th-fastest time, with Faulknor taking the next spot out.

    Sophomore Jaide Stepter and the freshman Iuel both ran in the final heat of the women's 400m IH. If they didn't finish in the top three of the heat to automatically advance, they would have to run under 57.94 to gain one of the three next best times to advance to the NCAA semifinals. In a tight finish for second through fourth in the heat, Iuel came on strong in the final 150 meeters and took second with a PR of 58.10 to better her ninth-place standing on USC's all-time list and automatically qualify. Stepter placed fourth in the heat and 14th overall with a time of 58.30.

    Brown and Lee then came back to run in the first round of the men's 200m dash and again left nothing to chance. Brown won the third heat with a time of 20.55 to automatically advance to tomorrow's quarterfinals, while Lee took third in the final heat with a time of 20.93 to move on to tomorrow's race. Brown's time was second and Lee's 13th among the qualifiers.

    Gaither and Davis advanced to the women's 200m quarterfinals tomorrow, also. Davis ran in the second heat and placed fourth with a time of 23.47 (-0.8) and would have to await the results to see if she could nab one of the next six fastest times. She had the fastest non-automatic qualifier through the first two heats and it remained that way through the first five heats meaning she would advance no matter what the outcome of the final heat. Gaither stormed to victory in the final heat with a time of 23.16 (-1.1) and as it turned out Davis had the fastest time of the non-automatic qualifiers. Both will compete tomorrow for a chance to make it to nationals in both the 100m and 200m dashes.

    Trojans scheduled to compete tomorrow include Lauren Chambers (hammer throw), Aleec Harris (110m HH), Melia Cox (100m HH), Aaron Brown (200m), BeeJay Lee (200m), Jessica Davis (200m), Tynia Gaither (200m), the men's and women's 4x100m relays and the women's 400m relay.