June 9, 2005
SACRAMENTO, Calif. -
The University of Wyoming track and field teams continued competition on Thursday at the NCAA Outdoor Championships in Sacramento, Calif.
The four are the first ever relay team to make the finals at the NCAA National Championships since the program's existence.
The Cowgirls were in the first of four heats where only the winner of each heat and the top four other times would make the finals. Smith put the Cowgirls in the lead after her opening leg split of 51.32, before passing the baton over to Larrier. Larrier ran solid with a split of 54.16, putting the team in second position. The freshman then turned it over to Hopper, who ran a strong split of 53.34 to put the team in third place heading into the final leg. Up next was Fox, who kept up with favorite South Carolina and Auburn, running a split of51.64, that accumulated an overall time of 3:30.68 and third in the heat. This time breaksthe team's previous school record that they ran at the Midwest Regional of 3:31.50.
Now it was just a waiting game for the team since they did not win their heet. Entering the last heat, the Cowgirls still had the third fastest time of the nonautomatic qualifiers. In the final heat, Stanford upset the favorites Texas Tech and Baylor to get the automatic bid to finals. Stanford's time was only 3:32.23, which meant they would be the only team of the heat to make it to finals.
After it was all said and done, the Cowgirls ran the fifth fastest time of the round and had a place in the finals on Saturday.
"I am just so excited," said UW head coach Don Yentes. "I am so proud of these girls and we will definitely give it a run on Saturday."
Earlier in the day Smith competed in round one of the 400-meter hurdles. Smith, running in the last of five heats, cruised to a first place finish with a time of 56.54. Her time was the third fastest of the day, behind Melaine Walker of Texas (56.36) and Tiffany Ross-Williams(55.90) of South Carolina. The Sheridan, Wyo native will be one of 16 women to advance to the semifinals on Friday.
Senior Tanice Barnett unfortunately ended her career as a Cowgirl on Thursday when she was unable to qualify for the finals in the 1500-meters. Barnett finished 13th in her heat with a time of 4:34.85, when she needed to place in the top four to move on.
"Tanice put it all out on the line," said Yentes. "She had a great career at UW and I was so happy she got to end it at the NCAA Championships."
Friday, the meet will continue with seniors Fox, Smith, and Zack Schaefer competing in their individual events. Fox will be looking to advance to the finals in second round of the 400-meters, while Smith will be doing the same in the 400-meter hurdles.
Schaefer will be competing in the finals of hammer throw. The senior entered the meet ranked 21st and is now enters the finals in ninth.