NCAA Championships – West Preliminary
Mike A. Myers Stadium // Austin, Texas
|Senior Colleen O’Brien advanced to the NCAA Championships for the first time after finishing fifth in the event Friday at the West Prelims.
AUSTIN, Texas – Two more Jayhawks added their names to the travel itinerary for the NCAA Championships in Eugene, Oregon as seniors Michael Stigler and Colleen O’Brien advanced out of the West Preliminary Friday inside Mike A. Myers Stadium. Junior Daina Levy qualified to the national meet for the second time in as many days after she claimed the 12th and final spot in the discus.
Stigler made another statement along the road to his fourth-straight 400-meter hurdle qualification to nationals. The senior once again left the rest of the field in the dust in the quarterfinal heat, rounding the track in another time that is among the fastest in the world this year. Stigler crossed the finish in 48.64, just .2 seconds off his personal best and the third race in which he has gone under 49 seconds this year. His performance was the fastest out of both the west and the east regions and gives Stigler the three-fastest times in the collegiate ranks this year.
Now the owner of three of the world’s eight fastest 400-meter hurdle times in 2015, Stigler will journey to the National Championships for the fourth-straight year and will look to improve upon back-to-back runner-up finishes in each of the last two NCAA meets. He will take to the track at Hayward Field in the national semifinal race set for Wednesday, June 10 at 8:10 p.m. (CT).
O’Brien was also able to extend her senior year by another two weeks with the help of a fifth-place finish in the high jump. The senior out of Louisburg, Kansas needed just three attempts to get over her first two heights of the day, however she needed all three tries to clear the bar at 1.78 meters (5’10”). She slid over on her third attempt to remain among the field, which was down to 14 competitors, as the standards were raised to 1.82 meters (5’11½”). This time, O’Brien didn’t waste any time and cleared on her first try, which moved herself to fifth overall and secured her first trip to the NCAA Championships.
O’Brien has now posted a clearance of 1.80 meters (5’10¾”) or better in each of her last five outings. She will become the first Jayhawk female to compete in the high jump at the NCAA Outdoor Championships since 1994. Her championship event is set for Saturday, June 13 at 3:30 p.m. (CT).
Levy added another accolade to an already impressive week as she secured a spot at nationals in her second event in as many days. She was just 24 hours removed from earning the top qualifying spot out of the region in the hammer throw with her personal best mark of 69.01 meters (226’5″). Levy didn’t let off the accelerator Friday as she hit the throws cage in the first of three flights of the discus throw. The junior posted a throw of 53.73 meters (176’3″) on her second attempt to shoot to the top of the leaderboard. The mark bettered Levy’s previous best by nearly seven feet and put her in firm grasp of first place, however, still with two 16-woman flights to contend with. Levy spent two nervous hours as the next two flights of competitors went through there trials. But when the final thrower completed her attempt, Levy’s name remained among the top-12, by just three inches.
Levy’s 12th-place finish gave her the last qualifying spot out of the west region and marked made her just the third discus thrower in the six-year history of the West Preliminary meet to advance to nationals out of the first flight.
Levy will be busy in two weeks as she will compete in both the hammer throw and the discus. The finals of the discus are slated for Saturday, June 13 at 3:35 p.m. (CT).
Another notable performance Friday came from sophomore Zainab Sanni, we competed in the first round of the 200 meters. She finished her half lap in a new personal best of 23.38 to finish second in her heat and 12th out of the 24 to advance to the quarterfinals. Sanni, who is now among the top-five 200 meter performers in school history, will look to remain in that all-important top-12 when she takes the track for the quarterfinal heats on Saturday at 7:35 p.m.
The Jayhawks, who have now seen seven athletes qualify for the NCAA Championships in eight events, will have 11 more opportunities to earn spots in Eugene on the third and final day of the West Preliminary meet. Action Saturday will kick off from Mike A. Myers Stadium at 1 p.m., with four Jayhawks competing in the men’s pole vault. The men’s 4×400-meter relay will close out the day at 9:45 p.m. Follow all the final day’s events at KUAthletics.com and through Twitter at @KUTrack.
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