New Qualifying Format Sends 11 Wyoming Individuals to NCAA Preliminary Meet

May 26, 2010

LARAMIE, Wyo. -

The University of Wyoming track and field teams have qualified 11 individuals in 14 events to compete in the 2010 Outdoor NCAA Preliminary Championships in Austin, Texas, May 27-29.

The NCAA Championships are experimenting with a new structure that takes the top 48 in each event to the preliminary meet where the top 12 from each event will find themselves at the NCAA Championships in Eugene, Ore., June 9-12.

The West region will compete at the Mike A. Myers Track And Soccer Stadium, on the campus of the University of Texas.

The Cowboys will take eight individuals, with two competing in more than one event. The Cowgirls have qualified three individuals.

The `Pokes that have qualified, along with their event and current ranking in the West Region are: junior Jeremiah James (triple jump, seventh), sophomore Joe Plante (discus throw, 10th), senior Kekoa Chavez (400m hurdles, 16th), freshman Lenyn Leonce (long jump, 19th), freshman Mario Harris (200m, 29th, 100m, 43rd), senior Sam Lambert (hammer throw, 32nd), freshman Stephen Michel (100m, 37th, triple jump, 38th, long jump, 50th), freshman Mark Sparks (discus throw, 45th).

The Cowboys are led by James with his seventh best jump of 52' 10.25" in the triple jump that ranks second all-time in Wyoming history. In the throws, Plante is in the top-10 with his distance of 188' 1" which ranks fourth all-time for UW. Harris currently owns the school record in the 200-meter dash with his time of 20.98 that he ran at the Mountain West Conference Championships. Meanwhile, Michel will be competing in three different events, the 100-meter dash, the triple jump and the long jump.

The Cowgirls are led by junior Afiya Walker in the 400-meter dash. She has the 14th best time in the West Region, while senior Johnna Jeffries is 39th in the high jump and freshman Taylor Gardner is 45th in the 400-meter hurdle event.

Walker's time of 52.93 has her ranked 14th in the region but has her second on the UW list. Whereas Gardner, competing in her first collegiate season, entered her name in the UW record books with the sixth fastest 400-meter hurdle time and will compete for the Cowgirls this weekend with eyes wide open.

"Each kid only has to beat 36 competitors to move on to the NCAA Championships, so I'm excited to see what they can do," said UW head coach Don Yentes. "We have some that are really competing well and that are peaking at the right time. Anything can happen. We definitely have plenty of young competitors that will gain plenty of experience this weekend. I want them to soak up as much from this meet as they can and use it in the future."

Chavez will kick off the meet on Thursday with the very first event beginning at 3:30 p.m. on Thursday May 27th.