May 24, 2012
AUSTIN, Texas - The Arizona State University track and field team put together an exceptional performance on the opening day of the NCAA West Preliminaries with numerous student-athletes elongating their season at the Mike A. Myers Stadium in Austin, Texas on Thursday.
Five Sun Devils earned their way to the NCAA Championships on the day with six others advancing to quarterfinal appearances that will take place later this weekend.
Sophomore Anna Jelmini got things rolling for the No. 12 Sun Devil women as she finished seventh overall in the shot put competition to earn one of the 12 automatic berths to the NCAA Championships in Des Moines, Iowa, which are set to take place June 6-9.
Jelmini had a best throw of the day of 16.46m (54-00.00) on her final throw of the day to advance to the NCAA Finals for the second time in as many years.
Jelimini's qualification in her secondary event - discus being her main one - set the stage for senior Chris Benard to do the same. Benard - who owns the school record indoors and outdoors in the triple jump - matched his career-best in the long jump on Thursday with a leap of 7.75m (25-05.25) to finish eighth in the prelim competition and punch his ticket to Des Moines.
In the women's long jump, junior Christabel Nettey got back to her top form as she won the competition on her final leap with a jump of 6.56m (21-06.25), though slightly wind-aided. Joining her in Des Moines will be sophomore Constance Ezugha, who took ninth in the competition with her best jump of the day of 6.43m (21-01.25).
Jordan Clarke rounded out the national qualifiers for the day for the No. 14 men as he launched his final throw in the shot put 19.76m (64-10.00) to move into second in the competition and earn the automatic bid to Iowa.
Several student-athletes also advanced beyond the opening round of their respective events to move to the quarterfinals, set to take place over the next two days in Austin.
In the first running event of the day, senior Kayla Sanchez lived to fight another day as she took second in her heat of the 400-meter hurdles to automatically advance to tomorrow's quarterfinal. Sanchez neared her season's best with a time of 58.35, which was the eighth-fastest time of the opening round.
In the men's 100-meter dash, sophomore Ryan Milus clocked the ninth-fastest prelim time in 10.29 to take second in his heat and also automatically advance to tomorrow's quarterfinals. Milus' teammate, Daniel Auberry, lived a little closer to the edge as he clocked a time of 10.40 in his heat, but that just got him into Friday's final as the 24th-best time in the prelims.
In the women's 100 meters, sophomore Asiah Gooden ran a lifetime's best under any condition as she clocked a wind-aided time of 11.57 to advance on time as the 23rd-fastest qualifier in the opening round.
ASU kept the momentum going in the 400-meter dash as both Will Henry and Kelsey Caesar advanced in that event as well. Henry took third in his heat in 46.70 to automatically advance as one of the place-qualifiers while Kelsey Caesar clocked a time of 46.87 to take fourth in his heat and advance on time.
The men's 800-meter run rounded out Thursday's successful prelim rounds as Mason McHenry used a late surge to move from dead last with 300 meters to go to take fourth overall in his heat in 1:49.87 - less than two-tenths of a second out of first - and advanced to Friday's quarterfinals on time.
The Sun Devils will return to action in Austin on Friday where more championship tickets will be on the line. A live blog of the day's action will be available here: http://www.thesundevils.com/sports/c-track/spec-rel/051212aaa.html.