May 24, 2012
AUSTIN, Texas - Chase Wheeler punched his ticket to the NCAA Championships in the men's long jump with Deborah Maier later joining him in the women's 10,000 meters as the Golden Bears posted several strong performances on the first day of competition at the NCAA West Preliminary meet Thursday.
On an afternoon where virtually all marks in the long jump were wind-aided, Wheeler burst out of the gate with an effort of 25-2.75 on his first attempt, which was aided by a tailwind of 3.3 meters per second. Although he didn't improve in future jumps, his mark stood up and he finished in 11th place overall. With the top 12 automatically advancing to the national meet in Des Moines, Iowa, Wheeler had his spot secured.
Freshman Jonte Grant, however, learned that 13 is not a lucky number. He went 25-1.25 on his first try - his best jump out of six attempts - but placed one position out of the top 12, just 1.5 inches from being the final qualifier. Hammed Suleman finished 26th at 24-4.25. Both Suleman and Grant will have another opportunity to advance when they compete in Friday's triple jump.
Maier comfortably qualified for the NCAA meet in the 10K, crossing the line in 33:59.90 to take fifth place in the 48-woman field. She ran with the lead pack for most of the race, with her primary goal just to be among the top 12 in order to advance. Maier owns a best in the event of 32:12.47, which is both a Pac-12 and school record.
"This is not a championship meet; the object is to qualify and move to the next round," Director of Track & Field Tony Sandoval said. "Deborah ran a very smart race. A couple of people wanted to make a race out of it, and she let them go, knowing she was in the top 12."
In the women's 1500 meters, Bryson moved to the quarterfinals by finishing third in her heat in 4:22.28. The top five from each of four heats, plus the next four fastest times advanced. Bryson, who was in the fastest heat, had the third-best time of the day, trailing only Washington's Katie Flood (4:22.02) and Amanda Mergaert of Utah (4:22.20).
Weaver also reached the next round in the women's 400-meter hurdles. She completed her circuit of the track in 59.88, which was third in heat 6, with the top three in each heat advancing.
Weaver's next race will be on Friday, while Bryson will vie her place at NCAA nationals on Saturday.
In other action, Charnell Price did not advance after placing 36th in the women's 100m (11.74w), and Matt Miller took 21st in the men's 10K in 30:54.02. Price returns to the track Friday for the 200 meters.
Malaina Payton, one of the top seeds in the women's long jump, did not compete due to an aggravated hamstring.
The Bears sent a total of 26 individuals and one relay to the NCAA West Preliminary meet, which continues through Saturday.
NCAA West Preliminary Rounds
1500m (first round) - 9. Taylor Bryson 4:22.28q
10,000m (semifinal) - 5. Deborah Maier 33:59.90Q
400m hurdles (first round) - 18. Angelica Weaver 59.88q
Q - qualified for NCAA Championships; q - qualified for next round at NCAA West Preliminary meet