AUSTIN, Texas — Baileh Simms is going back to the Pacific Northwest. The Seattle, Wash., native and Portland State transfer advanced to the NCAA Championship in Eugene, Ore., in the long jump to highlight day one of the NCAA West Preliminary Round.
Simms had to patiently wait the entire day as she was seeded in the fourth flight as the last jumper. That didn't bother the senior. She opened up the event with a PR jump of 20-11.25, which put her seventh overall.
“Baileh Simms came out and took it,” says head coach Jim VanHootegem. “Her first-round mark held up for seventh place, easily within the qualifying mark. She was ready to go in warm-ups. In warm-ups, you could tell she was dialed in. Her practice jumps on the runway, you could tell she was dialed in. She came right down and nailed the first jump and then had a close foul on the second.
“A great day for her. Last year, she made the NCAA Championships (where she finished 20th with 19-9), but we go into this championship with a lot more confidence. Also, it was a tremendous bounce back, because she faltered at the Big 12 meet. She continued believing in herself.”
For others, day one proved to be tough and, in some cases unkind to the University of Oklahoma track and field teams.
Ashley Bryant finished 15th in the hammer throw after her 197-10 mark in the third round. Charles Nguyen was able to record only one legal mark, a 206-7, on his second attempt. That wasn't enough to qualify for the championship.
Meagan Gray was the highest finisher for the Sooners in the pole vault with a clearance of 13-9.25. Her clearance ended up being the cutoff for the top 12, but she finished 18thdue to overall misses. Kenzie Shell's last cleared bar was 13-5.25.
T.J. Noonan's best throw in the javelin event occurred on his second attempt with 189-9. After two fouls, Gabby Kearney threw a 139-7 in the women's javelin.
The Sooners had three entries in the men's long jump, with Hayden McClain being the top finisher. His best mark, 24-11, placed him 19th overall. Greg Vann jumped 24-5.50 on his final attempt and Thomas Cheval's best mark of the afternoon was 24-1.75.
There were some bright spots however, in the women's 400-meter hurdles and 100-meter dash. The hurdles went two-for-two with Medinah Spencer (59.80) and Mia Mukes (a PR of 59.92) advancing to the quarterfinals with third-place finishes in their heats. There was a timing glitch in the first heat, Spencer's heat. Technical difficulties led to a ruling that added three additional athletes to the quarterfinals. There will be three heats of nine in the event tomorrow. Leya Buchanan also advanced to the quarterfinals in her event, the 100-meter dash, after a second-place finish of 11.23 in her heat.
Amanda Van Buren ran a wind-aided 11.48, her best time in the event, and Trae Armstrong ran 10.44 in their 100-meter heats. Their times were not among those that advanced.
In the men's 400-meter hurdles, Bryce Douglas ran 53.75 in his heat and did not make the cutoff for the quarterfinals.
Grayson Haws competed in the first round of the 800-meter run, finishing in 1:52.24. He was not among those who advanced.
To close out the day, the Sooners had three runners in the women's 10,000-meter run. Brittany Tretbar was the first OU runner to cross the line at 35:47.84. Following her were Isabella Rose at 38:17.22 and Elena Arriaza (38:23.74).
“It takes your best at this meet,” explains VanHootegem. “You don't always have to do more than your best, but if you do your best, our best would have been close enough to get in on a few cases. You need to be ready to do your best at this meet.
“Looking at it, season-best marks would have gotten in in multiple cases. That's our message to our team, that you have to come here and do your job. You've done it before, you've been in great situations, just come out here and do your job.
“We have people we believe in. The most important thing is that you believe that you belong in the 12, or your coach believes you belong in the 12. We have some people who we thought could have done that today. But they are also people who have had great things happen this season as well. We're not forgetting that, we're just a little disappointed for them. Not as much in them, but for them. “
Tomorrow is another opportunity to earn that trip to Eugene, starting with the women's discus and men's pole vault at noon CT.
“Hopefully, Baileh got the ball rolling on some momentum and we can get some more people on to Eugene, which is our goal. We look forward to getting the momentum rolling and getting more people in the next two days.”
A recap will be posted at the conclusion of the day on Soonersports.com. Live streaming will be available at http://www.texassports.com/watch/?Live=315&type=Live, as will live results at http://live.pttiming.com/?mid=1236. Updates will be provided throughout the day on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook (OU_Track).