OU Qualifies 11 for NCAA Outdoor Championships
NORMAN - The Oklahoma men's and women's track and field teams rallied on the final day of competition at the 2019 NCAA West Preliminary Round in Sacramento, Calif., clinching nine spots at the NCAA Outdoor Championships on June 5-8.
Six athletes and three relay teams punched their tickets Saturday to join two other Sooners who had already earned a trip to the national championships in Austin, Texas. On Friday, senior Meagan Gray claimed the 11th best mark (14-2; 4.32m) in the women's pole vault to advance, while sophomore Joseph Sheffield clocked a 10.36 in the men's 100-meter dash to earn an automatic qualification.
The first Sooner to join Gray and Sheffield was Essence Thomas. The sophomore, making her second consecutive NCAA Prelims appearance, clinched her first career trip to NCAA Outdoors with a leap of 42-11.5 (13.09m). The mark was the best of three attempts and a personal record, but Thomas' other two jumps would have also been good enough to qualify.
The Sooners were one of just four West Region teams (Arkansas, Arizona, Oregon) to qualify for three out of the four Nationals relays.
Oklahoma earned automatic qualifications in both the men's and women's 4x100-meter relays, while the women's 4x400-meter team snuck into the field with the 12th and final spot. Sophomores Camri Austin, Dai'Lyn Merriweather, Ja'Leesa Giles and freshman Kennedy Blackmon teamed up for the 4x100 to clock a season-best 44.51 and finish third in their heat. In the men's race, junior Jackson Webb, Sheffield, junior Xavier Brown and freshman Quoi Ellis took second in heat one with a time of 39.59. Webb, Sheffield and Brown will be making a repeat trip to the NCAA Outdoor Championships, all as members of OU's 2018 4x100 team. To end the meet, D. Merriweather, Blackmon, Giles and sophomore Jai'Lyn Merriweather ran the baton around the track in 3:35.92.
Later in the evening, both of OU's women shot put competitors secured qualification for the outdoor championships. Redshirt junior and Big 12 runner-up Meia Gordon will make her second trip to the NCAA Championships in as many years, throwing it 54-10.25 (16.72m) for the ninth-best mark in the West regional. Freshman Faith Ette sat in second place after the first two flights with a mark of 53-2.75 (16.22m) and held on to the 12th and final qualifying mark after the third and fourth flights. Ette will be the sole freshman to represent the Sooners in an individual event in Austin.
Two more Oklahoma student-athletes punched their tickets to Texas in the men's triple jump. For the second year in a row, sophomore Papay Glaywulu earned third place at the NCAA West Prelims. Glaywulu leapt 52-8.75 (16.07m) to advance to his second NCAA Championship. Junior Adé Mason used his final jump to set a personal record of 52-1.25 (15.88m), jump into eighth place and secure a trip to south Texas.
Dai'Lyn Merriweather was OU's final qualifier. The Vancouver, Wash., native picked up her second 200-meter dash personal record in as many days, following up her first-round 23.27 with a 23.02 in the quarterfinals. The time moves her to seventh on OU's all-time top-10 performance list. Merriweather will make her first career NCAA Outdoor Championship appearance.
Three other quarterfinalists in the men's and women's 200-meter dashes saw their individual seasons conclude, but will still travel to Austin as members of OU's relay teams. Giles clocked a personal-record 23.51 in the women's race but fell short of qualifying, taking 20th place. Brown also recorded a personal best, clocking in at 20.96 for 16th place in the men's race. Sheffield, who will compete in the 4x100 and the 100-meter dash at nationals, was not able to qualify for the 200 meters, finishing in 23rd place with a time of 21.48.
In the women's 100-meter hurdles, Camri Austin took a fall but still finished the race, taking 23rd with an official time of 38.43.
For the rest of the Sooners, the 2019 outdoor season came to an end.
Four OU women made their first career NCAA Prelims appearances in the triple jump. Freshman Allanah Lee leapt 40-11 (12.47m) for 27th place, and fellow freshman Nicole Ezeoke took 31st with a mark of 40-6.75 (12.36m). Both triple jumpers wrap up their freshman seasons already on OU's top-10 performance list at eighth and ninth, respectively. Senior Najuana Strickland finished 39th with a jump of 39-4.5 (12.00m), while freshman Symone Washington jumped 39-3.75 (11.98m) for 40th.
In the men's triple jump, two Sooners ended their seasons with their second consecutive NCAA West Prelims trip. Sophomore Garry Williams just missed qualification by three spots, taking 15th with a leap of 50-8.75 (15.46m). Senior Marcus Mitchell took 22nd, leaping 49-9.25 (15.17m).
Freshman Haley Herberg closed out a stellar freshman season with a 16:06.46 for 18th place in the women's 5,000-meter run. After her first year, she sits at number two on OU's all-time performance list for the event, less than one second from the school record.
Both Sooners in the men's shot put made their second straight NCAA Prelims appearances. Sophomore Cooper Campbell improved from 38th place in 2018 to 22nd place on Saturday, throwing it 60-10.75 (18.56m). Junior Brad Daboub closed out the season with a mark of 58-3.25 (17.76m) to tie his season best and finish in 36th place.
For OU's 11 qualifiers, the season extends another two weeks. The NCAA Outdoor Track & Field Championships are set for June 5-8 at Mike A. Myers Stadium on the campus of the University of Texas in Austin.
|OU NCAA OUTDOOR CHAMPIONSHIP QUALIFIERS|
|Pole Vault||Meagan Gray||14-2 (4.32m)|
|Triple Jump||Essence Thomas||42-11.5 (13.09m)|
|Shot Put||Meia Gordon||54-10.25 (16.72m)|
|Shot Put||Faith Ette||53-2.75 (16.22m)|
|4x100-Meter Relay||Camri Austin, Dai'Lyn Merriweather, Ja’Leesa Giles, Kennedy Blackmon||44.51|
|4x400-Meter Relay||Ja'Leesa Giles, Dai'Lyn Merriweather, Jai'Lyn Merriweather, Kennedy Blackmon||3:35.92|
|Triple Jump||Papay Glaywulu||52-8.75 (16.07mw)|
|Triple Jump||Roman Mason||52-1.25 (15.88m)|
|4x100-Meter Relay||Jackson Webb, Joseph Sheffield, Xavier Brown, Quoi Ellis||39.59|