Six Illini Qualify to Quarterfinals at NCAA West Prelims
May 24, 2012
AUSTIN, Texas - On the opening day of competition at the NCAA West Preliminary Round, six Illini qualified for the quarterfinals in their respective events. Freshman Ashley Spencer (400m), senior Ashley Kelly (400m), senior Ryisha Boyd (400m), senior Latoya Griffith (400m hurdles), sophomore Jesica Ejesieme (400m hurdles) and sophomore Katie Porada (1,500m) each advanced to the next round at Mike A. Myers Stadium, inching one step closer to a trip to the NCAA Championships in Des Moines.
"We had a good first day," head coach Tonja Buford-Bailey said. "Three advanced in the 400m and two were the first two out. That was the most represented event for us and they ran very well."
Spencer, who turned in the fastest finish among the Illini competitiors on Thursday in the 400m, finished first in her heat with a time of 52.82. The Indianapolis, Ind., native automatically qualified for Friday's quarterfinal with the third-fastest mark overall. Two other Illini advanced to join Spencer, as Kelly crossed the finish line in eighth place overall and second in her heat with a time of 53.40 while Boyd recorded her second fastest time this season, finishing with a mark of 53.97 to place 11th overall.
Griffith, who kicked off Illini action at the meet, ran the fifth heat of the 400m hurdles, where she placed sixth with a time of 58.51. Teammate Ejesieme, will join Griffith in the Friday's race after she finished third in her heat with a time of 58.80.
"Latoya (Griffith) and Jesica (Ejesieme) advanced in the 400m hurdles with automatic qualifying places," Buford-Bailey said. " Latoya ran the most strategic race of the year by not working too hard down the backstretch with the strong winds."
In the 1,500m, Porada ran to an automatic qualifying time of 4:26.80, as she was 19th overall and fifth in her heat. The Clarendon Hills, Ill., native will ran again on Saturday afternoon with a trip to the NCAA Championships on the line.
"Katie (Porada) also had an automatic spot and ran a very smart race," Buford-Bailey said.
The top three finishers in each quarterfinal heat of the 400m, 400m hurdles and 1,500m along with the next three best times will advance to the national meet in Des Moines.
Junior Marissa Golliday in the 400m (54.84), sophomore Amanda Duvendack in the 800m (2:09.49), freshman Asia Thomas in the 400m (54.76) and junior Courtney Yaeger in the 10,000m (35:33) wrapped up their seasons in the first round in their respective events. Junior Kawanna Brooks ended the year with a personal-best mark of 20-0 ¼ (6.10m) in the long jump.
"Kawanna (Brooks) jumped a personal-best in the long jump, which is a great way to end her season," Buford-Bailey said.
A full list of Illini results along with the remaining schedule of Orange and Blue competition can be found below. Illinois will resume action at the NCAA West Preliminary Round on Friday, beginning with the pole vault competition. Live results along with a full recap can be found on fightingillini.com.
Illinois Thursday Results at NCAA West Preliminary Round
Illinois Remaining Schedule at the NCAA West Preliminary Round
Friday, May 25