Coppinger breaks school steeplechase record, earns 1 of 7 NCAA bids for Kansas on day 2 of West Prelim
SACRAMENTO, Calif. – Using a late burst of speed over the final 100 meters of the women’s 3,000-meter steeplechase at the NCAA Division I West Preliminary on Friday night, redshirt senior Courtney Coppinger broke the Kansas school record and punched her ticket to Eugene, Oregon for the NCAA Outdoor Championships. Coppinger’s race was the final of the night for the Jayhawks at Hornet Stadium in Sacramento, California, and made her the seventh KU athlete of the day to earn a spot at the national championships, bringing the total to 13 NCAA entries through two days at the regional meet for Kansas.
A product of St. Teresa’s Academy in Leawood, Kansas, Coppinger’s school record and NCAA bid is made more impressive by the fact that it was a personal-best time by 16 seconds. The senior started her final lap in fourth place, four seconds behind the next runner, but made up ground throughout the final 400 meters before moving into third to earn an auto-qualifying spot in Eugene, clocking in at 9:51.28.
Prior to Coppinger’s spectacular run, junior Dylan Hodgson sealed his spot at the national championships in the men’s 3,000-meter steeplechase by becoming the No. 6 performer in school history with a four second PR of 8:43.14. Running in heat one, Hodgson finished fifth in his heat, and with just the top-three from each section earning auto-qualifiers he had to wait to see his fate. Running in the fastest heat of the night helped his case and his trip to Eugene was booked as the second time qualifier.
Kansas sophomore Bryce Hoppel will have a chance to improve on his eighth-place finish at the 2018 NCAA Indoor Championships, as he qualified for the outdoor championships in the 800 meters on Friday night. Hoppel posted a personal-best time of 1:47.93, finishing second in his heat to earn an auto-qualifying spot. The Midland, Texas native’s time moved him into the No. 8 position on the KU all-time performers list in the event.
A pair of Kansas men’s discus throwers also punched their tickets to Eugene on Friday. Freshman George Evans and senior Nicolai Ceban both finished in the top-12 of the discus to earn their bids to the NCAA Championships. Evans posted the fifth-best mark of the West Prelim with a throw of 55.89 meters (183-4 ft.) and Ceban recorded the eighth-best mark of 55.56 meters (182-3 ft.).
A third Kansas discus thrower, freshman Alexandra Emilianov, also earned a qualifying bid to the National Championships, finishing sixth overall with a mark of 54.68 meters (179-5 ft.). Emilianov’s qualification made her the fourth Jayhawk thrower of the weekend advance to Eugene, joining Evans, Ceban and sophomore Gleb Dudarev, who qualified in the men’s hammer throw on Thursday.
With three Jayhawks competing in the women’s pole vault, sophomore Andrea Willis was the only Kansas vaulter to make it out of the highly-competitive West Regional. Willis was one of 12 athletes to clear 4.18 meters (13-8.5 ft.), earning her first bid to the NCAA Championships.
The Jayhawks will conclude the NCAA West Preliminary Round on Saturday, May 26 with seven NCAA Championships bids on the line. Joel Long will compete in the men’s high jump at 4 p.m. PDT, the women’s 4×100-meter relay team is scheduled to run at 6:15 p.m., seniors Barden Adams and Ezekiel Welch will triple jump at 7:30 p.m., senior Sharon Lokedi will look for her second bid of the weekend, this time in the 5,000 meters, scheduled for 8:45 p.m. and the men’s and women’s 4×400-meter relay teams will close out the meet at 9:25 p.m. and 9:45 p.m., respectively.
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