Thomas Automatically Qualifies for the NCAA Championships at Adidas Invitational

Feb. 2, 2002

LARAMIE, Wyo. -

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University of Wyoming senior JulieThomas automatically qualified for the 2002 NCAA Indoor Track and FieldChampionships after throwing a distance of 64-2 1/4 in the 20-poundweight throw at the Adidas Invitational in Lincoln, Neb. Thomas' throwplaced her third in the event and was also an all-time personal best forthe Cowgirl team co-captain from Douglasville, Ga.

The two-day Adidas Invitational attracted some of the nations topcollege track and field teams to the Bob Devaney Sports Center inLincoln. Wyoming's men and women competed against the likes of Florida,Florida State, Georgia, Louisiana State, Mississippi, Nebraska andjunior college powerhouse Barton County. No team scores were kept atthe meet.

Wyoming's overall top finisher was freshman Shauna Smith, who for thethird week in a row set a new UW school record in the 400-meter dash,placing third with a time of 54.57. Sophomore Andrea Batt improved uponher NCAA provisional mark in the shot put with a personal best throw of52-7 1/2, good enough for a third-place finish. Junior Crystal Smithwas the only other Cowgirl to place in the top five of an event, placingfourth in the 20-pound weight throw with a personal best mark of 61-23/4.

The Poke men were led by junior Dan Williams (Laramie, Wyo.) who placedfourth in the 35-pound weight throw with a career best mark of 61-71/2. Senior Quincy Howe had an off day for his standards, placingseventh in the triple jump with a leap of 51- 1/4. Juniors Craig Suterand Seth Billy were the remaining Cowboys to place in the top ten intheir events with Suter placing eighth in the shot put (54-1/4) andBilly placing ninth in the 400-meter dash (48.75).

"We really came out on Friday and had some outstanding performances,"said Wyoming head coach Don Yentes. "Our two women weight throwers,Julie Thomas and Crystal Smith, really had exceptional showings. Thiswas one of the deepest weight fields you'll find outside of the nationchampionship meet.

"I was also extremely proud of our distance runners on the first day ofcompetition. They all really stepped it up and gave a great effort."Yentes said.

All of Wyoming's distance runners gave all-time personal bestperformance in their events. The Cowgirl trio of junior StephanieHanks, freshman Ashley Mecham and freshman Jennifer Thompson all hadcareer best times in the 3000-meter run. Cowboy freshman Matt Hudsonhad a lifetime best in the mile run and fifth-year senior Chris Jonsgave his all-time best effort in the men's 3000-meter run.

"Other than Shauna Smith's performance, I thought as a team we onlyput in an average day on Saturday. It was a good learning experiencefor us and we just need to keep working harder and stepping things up inour training because we still have along ways to go." said Yentes.

On a disappointing note the Cowgirls' 4x400-meter relay team wouldhave broken the school record in that event by nearly seven seconds,however they were disqualified.

The Cowboys and Cowgirls will be back on the track Feb. 8-9, when theycompete in the Iowa State Invitational in Ames, Iowa.