May 17, 2012
LARAMIE, Wyo. - Fourteen University of Wyoming track and field student-athletes will begin the quest for the NCAA Championships as they were selected to take part in the NCAA West Preliminary Round in Austin, Texas.
The NCAA Championships began two years ago with a qualifying format which involves the top 48 athletes in each event advancing to two preliminary meets, the West and East regions. Action at the West Preliminary Round will be May 24-26. From there, the top 12 finishers from each event will receive an invitation to the NCAA Championships in Des Moines, Iowa, on June 6-9.
The Cowboys who earned bids to the West Preliminary include sophomore Garrett Zans, senior Taylor Kelting, senior Greg Miller, senior Nick Ekel, junior Lenyn Leonce, senior Jeremiah James, junior Joe Plante, freshman Paul Thomas and junior Henry Ferreira.
"It's a great achievement for these kids," Wyoming assistant coach Randy Cole said. "It's a positive affirmation of their training. You can see, each person individually, how they're coming on at the end of the season. They're on top of their game. They're all excited about the opportunity. They want to go in and compete, and not just be glad they are there."
The 14 qualifiers surpass last year's total of 12. Returners from last year's NCAA West Preliminary round include Kirby, Hutchinson, Leonce, Kelting, Miller, Wollert and Zans.
"Henry, Jerry and Lenyn have been banged up, but the way they came up through last week's conference meet, they proved they have a lot of bullets in the gun still," Cole said. "They've overcome some adversity there to work the kinks out. I think they can do pretty well.
"And someone like Nick Ekel, Candace Wollert, Erin Kirby or our shot put women, they've been really coming on these last few weeks of the season. We've got a lot of kids who are peaking and hitting it right at the right time, based on what happened at conference. That's a good sign. We'll be right up in the mix there."
Freshman Aaron Derner is just a few spots out of the top 48 in the 10,000-meter run and could receive an invitation if there are scratches in that event.
Here is a breakdown of the Wyoming qualifiers and their rankings within the West Region:
Garrett Zans, 32nd in the 3,000-meter steeplechase
Taylor Kelting, 45th in the 5,000-meter run
Greg Miller, 23rd in the 10,000-meter run
Nick Ekel, 25th in the 10,000-meter run
Lenyn Leonce, 47th in the long jump
Jeremiah James, 18th in the triple jump
Joe Plante, 18th in the discus throw
Paul Thomas, 40th in the discus throw
Henry Ferreira, 48th in the javelin throw
Candace Wollert, 46th in the 800-meter run
Erin Kirby, 46th in the 400-meter hurdles
Mollie Dahl, 46th in the shot put
Shreese Daniels, 48th in the shot put
Ashley Hutchinson, 29th in the hammer throw