|Idaho sends 13 to West Preliminary Round|
MOSCOW - The University of Idaho men's and women's track and field teams grabbed an impressive haul of Western Athletic Conference titles, school records, individual awards and all-time top performances last weekend, and for 13 Vandals, the season will continue.
The NCAA released its accepted entries into next weekend's 2010 NCAA Championships West Preliminary Round at Austin, Texas, and named six Idaho men and seven women among the competitors.
"It's exciting to have that many, especially on the men's side with us redshirting a bunch of guys and still getting six people in," Idaho co-head coach Wayne Phipps said. "The other thing is, it's not 13 people who are just squeaking in, we've got a number of people who are in the top 12 or are very close to that, so I think we could have a pretty good-sized group going to the finals."
Four Idaho athletes will do double duty at the meet, as senior Allix Lee-Painter will run the women's 3,000m steeplechase and 5,000m, senior Mykael Bothum will compete in the women's shot put and discus, junior Ulrike Hartz will throw the javelin and run the 200m, and senior Beau Whitney will compete in the men's discus and hammer throw events. Hartz already qualified for the NCAA Championship Finals in the women's heptathlon by virtue of her No. 6 national ranking in the event.
Other Idaho women's qualifiers are seniors K.C. Dahlgren in the pole vault and Christie Gordon in the 100m hurdles and sophomores Lauren Schaffer in the 800m and Gabby Midles in the hammer throw. For the men, senior James Rogan will throw the hammer, juniors Sam Michener, Paul Dittmer and Eugenio Mannucci will compete in the 100m, 110m hurdles and shot put, respectively, and sophomore Jeremy Klas will compete in the pole vault.
Rogan enters the meet as the highest-ranked Vandal. His school-record hammer throw of 221-7 (67.55m) is third-best in the region. Hartz is the top-ranked Idaho woman at eighth in the javelin with a school-record best this season of 168-9 (51.45m). Bothum has the ninth-best shot put in the region, a school-record toss of 52-8.25 (16.06m) from the WAC Championships, while Gordon's 13.34 in the 100m hurdles is the 10th-best time in the region.
The Preliminary Round format is in its first year of implementation and replaces the former Regional Championship meets. There are two preliminary round meets, the West at Austin, Texas, and the East at Greensboro, N.C.
"With the new format going down to just two regions, there are a lot more people competing for a limited number of qualifying spots, so we are really excited to have 13 kids get in and to know that they have the ability to advance to the next round," Idaho co-head coach Yogi Teevens said.
Of the 48 regional qualifiers in each event, the top 12 finishers in each event will move on to the NCAA Championship Finals on June 9-12 at Eugene, Ore. Unlike the former NCAA Regional Championships, the Preliminary Round meets will not have champions or team scores and will instead act as the opening rounds of the NCAA Championships.
Idaho's first action at the meet will be Michener in the 100m first round on Thursday, May 28, at 3:30 p.m. (PDT).