Cavaliers Send Eight Competitors to NCAA Championships

VIRGINIASPORTSDOTCOM
VIRGINIASPORTSDOTCOM

VIRGINIASPORTSDOTCOM
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. - Virginia will send eight representatives to the NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships in Des Moines, Iowa this week to compete for a national championship and All-America honors. Events will begin on Wed., June 11 and continue through Sat., June 14. Wednesday and Thursday will mainly consist of trials and qualifying rounds, where Friday and Saturday will be reserved for finals.

CBS College Sports Network (formerly CSTV) will be airing live coverage of the championships on from 7-10 p.m. CST on Friday. CBS will also broadcast live coverage of the final day of competition, Saturday, from 3-5 p.m. CST.

Five All-Americans are among the Cavaliers who have qualified for the national meet, led by 2008 All-Region selections, Billie-Jo Grant and Yemi Ayeni in the discus. Emily Harrison, Katie Read and Kara Scanlin will race the 10,000 meters, while Andrew Jesien (1500m), Stephanie Garcia (3,000m steeplechase) and Meghan Briggs (javelin) have also qualified.

Both Grant and Ayeni automatically qualified for nationals by placing in the top-three of the discus at the NCAA East Regional Championships held at Florida State last week. Grant won the event with a throw of 53.49m, becoming just the second Cavalier to ever finish first at the meet, and is making her third appearance at the national meet. She is currently ranked sixth nationally with her season-best throw of 56.07m, while Ayeni is 10th with a throw of 59.92m. Ayeni, the school record holder in the event, finished third at the regional meet and is making his second trip to the NCAA Championships. Ayeni will kick of competition with the men’s discus qualifying round at 1:30 p.m. CST. on Wednesday, followed up with the women’s competition, in which Grant will compete, at 4 p.m. CST.

Stephanie Garcia will also compete on Wednesday, at 7:20 p.m. CST., in the 3000m steeplechase. As just a sophomore, Garcia is making her second trip to the national championships. The 2007 USA Junior National Champion in the event is ranked 16th this season with her best time of 10:17.38. She automatically qualified for the championships by finishing third at the regional meet.

Virginia will also send two Cavaliers to the national meet to compete for their first time. All-East Region performer Andrew Jesien automatically advanced by placing third in the 1500m at the NCAA East Region Championships with a time of 3:51.69, while Meghan Briggs earned an invitation after placing 12th in the javelin at regionals. She is currently ranked 22nd nationally with her season-best throw of 49.67m.

Both Cavaliers will compete in their respective qualifying rounds on Thursday. Briggs will throw the javelin at 2:15 p.m. CST., and Jesien will run the 1500m at 7:10 p.m. CST.

A trio of seniors, Harrison, Read and Scanlin will wrap up competition on Thursday with the 10K finals at 8:10 p.m. CST. All three competed in the 10K at nationals last season, and are currently ranked in the top-20 nationally. Harrison leads the pack at ninth with a time of 33:40.34, while Scanlin ranks 15th (33:57.18) and Read is 17th (34:01.27). In last season’s championships, Read earned All-America honors after finishing 10th, while Harrison crossed 13th and Scanlin finished 20th.

Those Cavaliers placing in the top of their events will advance to the finals. The discus and steeplechase finals will take place on Friday, with the finals for the javelin and 1500m on Saturday.