FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. - Competing in the last events of the night juniors Anthony Rotich and Nickevea Wilson each sealed the second day of the NCAA West Preliminary Round earning a bid to the NCAA Championships in Eugene, Ore.
"Today was a better day for us," head coach Mika Laaksonen said. "Anthony Rotich was solid in the men's 3,000m steeplechase as he led the competition in his heat for an automatic qualifying spot to the NCAA final site. Nickevea Wilson also easily qualified in the women's triple jump. They both delivered praiseworthy performances and we couldn't be prouder."
Rotich will be looking to defend his title in the 3,000m steeplechase at the 93rd NCAA Championship. The distance runner once again stole the spot light as he dashed out and paced the second heat of the event. The two-time National Champion was the first runner to cross the finish line with a time of 8:38.80. The All-American concluded the meet first overall and will be making his seventh NCAA Championship appearance.
Securing her own spot at the national meet was Wilson in the women's triple jump. In her second leap of the night the junior marked a distance of 12.89m (42-3.5) placing her in the top six overall. This will be the All-American's second appearance at the NCAA Championships.
On the track Janice Jackson blazed the through the competition in the 100m hurdles. The All-American kicked off the event claiming first in the first heat of the night automatically qualifying her for the finals. The Conference USA Champion placed fourth overall with a time of 13.27.
Teammate Anna-Kay James became the second Miner to earn a spot in the quarterfinals on Friday. The junior transfer was the third competitor to cross the finish line in the third heat of the 100m hurdles. The hurdler clocked in a time of 13.70, placing 15th out of 48 runners. The duo will take the track tomorrow at 6:20 p.m. (MT) in the finals.
"With Janice (Jackson) and Anna-Kay (James) advancing to the quarterfinals, tomorrow should be a big day for us," Laaksonen said. "Both hurdlers have an excellent chance of advancing."
Falling short just one spot of making it to nationals in the 400m was Florence Uwakwe. The sprinter was 13th with a time of 53.21, missing the advancing-top 12 by only .06 of a second. The freshman will be running again tomorrow night in the women's 4x100m at 5 p.m. and the 4x400m relay at 8:45 p.m.
Joining Uwakwe in both relays is freshman Aiyanna Stiverne. Earlier today Stiverne recorded a time of 24.27 in the 200m dash ranking 29th out of 48 runners.
"Unfortunately, Florence (Uwakwe) and Aiyanna (Stiverne) did not advance today, but I am very impressed with the effort they put forth this weekend," Laaksonen said. "They are both strong runners, who along with Janice (Jackson) and Anna-Kay (James) have a strong chance of qualifying for the national meet in the 4x100m and 4x400m relays."
Representing the Miners in the women's discus throw were Taylor Gunn and Samantha Hall. Gunn finished second in the first of three flights as she boasted a toss of 50.26m (164-11). The junior rounded out her outdoor season 18th out of 48 throwers.
Freshman Samantha Hall followed with a toss of 47.21m (154-10).