Event: NCAA West Regionals
Where: Hayward Field – Eugene, Oregon
When: Friday and Saturday; all day
Who to watch: Just like last year, senior Kim Conley qualified in both the 1,500m and the 5,000m for the West Regionals.
Unlike last year, she will compete.
Due to food poisoning the night before the meet, Conley was forced to wait another year before getting a chance to hit the track for a championship meet.
“I’m very hungry for that 5,000m, especially after last year,” Conley said. “I’ve only raced one this season, so I’m pretty excited to get out there and see what I can do. I just want to go race and try to get one of those automatic qualifying spots in the top five.“
Conley was also forced to sit out the Big West Conference Championships two weeks ago due to injury.
“It was frustrating,” Conley said. “I really wanted to run both the 1,500m and the 800m again, and to be part of the team dynamic. It was hard to stay home, but in the big picture it was better for what I’m trying to do this weekend. I’m just ready to go.“
Did you know? In her final year as an Aggie, Kim Gleeson destroyed the field in the discus throw at the Division I Independent Championships in 2007.
While Gleeson never had the chance to compete against the best in the collegiate ranks, last Sunday she was able to throw against two of the best throwers in the world.
Competing at the Pacific Association Championships in San Mateo, Calif., Gleeson threw a huge 54.62m to take third place. While that mark gave her the “B” standard for this summer’s U.S.A. National Championships, it was dwarfed by throws from the top two competitors: Stephanie Brown Trafton and Suzy Powell-Roos.
Trafton was the surprise gold medalist at the 2008 Olympic Games, and won the competition with a world-leading 66.21m. Powell-Roos is the American record holder in the event, and threw 61.87m.
Preview: Six Aggies will be heading to Oregon for the NCAA West Regional Championships to compete against some of the best in the west, shooting for a berth in the NCAA Championships.
Those athletes, and their regional rankings, are No. 7 Kim Conley and No. 23 Lorin Scott (5,000m), No. 11 Sirena Williams (100m hurdles), No. 13 Chid Onyewuenyi (hammer throw and shot put), No. 15 Ugo Eke (400m) and No. 25 Ashley Hearn (discus throw).
“If you look at the events our women are in, it’s obviously tough competition,” said coach Deanne Vochatzer. “Our group is ready. They are really looking forward to punching a ticket to Fayetteville [site of the national championships]. That’s a big step. Is the competition tough? Yes, it’s ridiculous.“
As evidenced by her string of school-record performances, Williams is one of the top chances to qualify for nationals.
“Sirena broke the school record all those times,” said Vochatzer. “Five go on, and around five, six, seven it starts to get really close. If she gets in the 13.50 range, then it gets interesting. She’s shooting for a personal record and a school record, and knows that is what it will take.“
Like Williams, Conley is expected to be in the running for a spot to advance.
“It’s going to take an extraordinary mental focus,” Vochatzer said, “but if anyone can do it, Kimmy can. People blow up, people have their mind on something else – all kinds of stuff. If anybody blinks, Kimmy Conley is going to be right there.“
– Alex Wolf-Root