Big West Sends Three To NCAA Championships
Links associated with this release:
NCAA West Preliminary Round Central
Preliminary Round Schedule of Events | Thursday Results
Track Heat Sheets – Friday | Field Heat Sheets – Friday
CSUN senior Monique Griffiths, UC Riverside junior Tayler Fleming and UC Santa Barbara senior Matthew Kuskey turned in NCAA-qualifying performances at the NCAA Outdoor Track and Field West Preliminary Thursday at Mike A. Myers Stadium in Austin, Texas.
By virtue of finishing in the top-12 of their respective events, Griffiths, Fleming and Kuskey punched their tickets for next month’s NCAA Track and Field Championships in Eugene, Ore.
Coming off a successful Big West Championship in which she broke the conference overall and meet records in the hammer, Griffiths placed fourth overall in the event against the top competition in the West Region, which includes schools west of the Mississippi River. She achieved a mark of 215-2 on her first throw to qualify for the NCAA Championships for the second time in her career.
In contrast, Fleming saved her best for last in order to advance to nationals. Needing to exceed a mark of 20-06.25 in the long jump, Fleming leaped 20-08.50 to tie with two others and claim the final spot of 12 to Eugene. It represented a season-best effort, and was the second-farthest distance she had ever achieved in the event. Fleming cleared 20-11.75 at the 2016 Big West Heptathlon. She will be making her first trip to nationals.
Kuskey, the Big West javelin champion, made his first of three throws stand up as he paved his way to the NCAA’s. Kuskey tossed the javelin 217-08, just seven inches farther than Washington State’s Cole Smith who finished in 13th. It will be Kuskey’s first trip to the national meet, and he is the second Gaucho competitor in the last three years (Thomas Gore-Schreck) to reach Eugene.
Four other Big West athletes moved closer to NCAA qualifying on Thursday, advancing out of the first round of their events.
UC Santa Barbara junior Jenna Hinkle finished fourth in her heat and sixth overall, clocking 4 minutes, 24.45 seconds in the 1500 meters. The top five finishers in each heat plus the next four fastest at-large times advanced to Saturday’s quarterfinal at 4:30 p.m. (PT).
CSUN senior Lexis Lambert moved on to the quarterfinals in the 400 meters as she finished in 53.65 seconds for third place in her heat. The top three finishers in each of six heats, plus the next six best times, qualified for the next round. Lambert, who has participated in the West Preliminary all four years of her career, seeks her first appearance at nationals in the 400m. She has competed at the NCAA meet as part of Matador 4x100 and 4x400 relay teams.
UC Davis senior Rianna Goins finished second in her first-round heat and sixth overall with a time of 2:07.63 in the 800 meters. She advanced to Friday’s quarterfinals at 4:30 p.m. (PT). Goins was the only runner from a mid-major in the top 16. Goins aims to become the first Aggie in the 800 to make it to nationals since Lauren Wallace in 2013.
Sophomore Isaiah Jewett nearly won his first round heat in the 800 meters, finishing in 1 minute, 50.64 seconds behind winner Devin Dixon (1:50.54) of Texas A&M. He will compete in Friday’s quarterfinals at 4:45 p.m. Jewett must finish in the top three of his heat or own one of the three next fastest times in order to qualify for Eugene.
A host of other Big West athletes competed on Thursday and came close to achieving NCAA-qualifying marks.
Long Beach State senior Shelby Crider posted a career-best in the javelin (152-08) to finish 16th overall.
Senior James Hubbard of Long Beach State placed 16th in the hammer with a heave of 209-06.
Cal State Fullerton freshman Naiah Boardingham broke her own school record in the long jump with a top mark of 20 feet, 3.75 inches, but she just missed qualifying for nationals as she placed 18th.
Day two of the meet starts at 10 a.m. (PT) Friday with the women’s discus and men’s pole vault. First running event begins at 2:30 p.m. (PT) with the women’s 100 meter hurdles.