May 26, 2011
EUGENE, Ore. -
Senior Afiya Walker made the first day of the West Region NCAA Preliminary meet memorable for the Wyoming track and field program.
Walker qualified for Friday's quarterfinals in the 400-meter dash with her performance in Thursday's first round of action in Eugene, Ore. Walker was 21st overall in the field of 48, finishing the race with a time of 54.65 seconds.
"Afiya did what she needed to do," Wyoming head coach Don Yentes said. "She finished third in her heat, which moved her on to Friday's second round."
The rest of the Wyoming contingent didn't fare as well Thursday, however.
Sophomore Lenyn Leonce began the day for Wyoming's athletes, and finished 40th in the long jump. He scratched on his first two attempts, but managed a leap of 22 feet, 7 inches on his third and final attempt.
Hopes were high for freshman Erin Kirby and sophomore Diana Long in the 400-meter hurdles after they finished first and third, respectively, at the Mountain West Conference Outdoor Championships in the event. But the duo missed out on the quarterfinals after the first round, as Long finished 32nd with a time of 1 minute, 1.03 seconds, just eight spots out of qualifying. Kirby finished 40th overall with a time of 1:01.60.
"They were a little bit nervous and a little overwhelmed," Yentes said of Kirby and Long. "They competed well, but they didn't run nearly as well as they ran at the conference meet. It was good experience for them."
Candace Wollert finished 25th in the 800-meter run, turning in a time of 2:08.75. That was one spot away from qualifying for the quarterfinals Friday.
"Candace ran tremendous and missed qualifying by less than half a second," Yentes said. "You run a 2:08 and you don't qualify, you know it's a pretty good meet."
Junior Greg Miller finished the day for the Cowboys running in the 10,000-meter race, crossing the line in 18th place with a time of 29:33.79. He missed qualifying for NCAA Nationals by just six spots.
The action will begin Friday for Wyoming's athletes with junior Ashley Hutchinson in the hammer throw, followed by sophomore Tyler Skinner in the high jump. Walker will race in the quarterfinals of the 400, and in the nightcap, freshman Garrett Zans will make his NCAA debut in the 3,000-meter steeplechase.