SACRAMENTO, Calif.- Qualifying rounds on the first day of action at the NCAA Track & Field Championships had Simone Facey reaching the final of the 100 meters along with the women’s 4 x 100 relay.
Field event qualifying, though, took its toll on the three teams predicted to be in contention for the championship.
The first race on the track allowed the Aggie women to display their combined speed in the sprint relay. With a foursome of Elizabeth Adeoti, Porscha Lucas, Simone Facey and Tresha Henry, Texas A&M won the first heat of the 4 x 100 with a time of 43.70.
Defeating Tennessee (44.68) by nearly a full second, the Aggies posted the second fastest qualifying time on the day. They only trailed the 43.68 recorded by LSU in winning the fourth and final heat.
LSU (43.26) and A&M (43.29) entered the meet with the top two seed times. South Carolina, who entered seeded number three, failed to advance to the final as they ran 44.77 for second place to Oklahoma’s winning time of 44.27. The other heat winner was Texas in 44.08.
Smooth handoffs propelled the Aggies through the first two exchanges. Then Facey sped through the curve and extended A&M’s lead. Once Henry had the baton, she cruised to the finish with the rest of the field well back of her.
“It usually doesn’t matter who is on the anchor leg since I’m a really good passer,” Facey said. “It’s good to have Tresha on the final leg and we have the second fastest time going into the final. We’re looking forward to winning this race on Friday.”
Non-qualifiers behind behind Texas A&M and Tennessee were Houston (44.79), Pittsburgh (45.55) and Baylor (45.61).
Facey had two more races on the day, the first two rounds of the 100 meters. She won her semifinal race in 11.20 (1.8 wind) after placing second in the first round heat with an 11.27. The 11.20 clocking by Facey was just 0.01 of a second off her career best 11.19, which she has recorded twice this season.
“It was kind of rough for me today, because my leg wasn’t 100 percent,” noted Facey. “I toughened up myself a bit to just get out there and get it done through the rounds so I could make the finals. Hopefully on Friday I can better by personal best. I know I can run faster than 11.20.”
Clora Williams looked sharp in her heat of the 400 meters. The defending NCAA Champion won the final qualifying heat in 52.81, which was the fifth-fastest time on the day. She held off Georgia Tech’s Ashlee Kidd, who was runner-up in the heat with a 52.82.
Iowa’s Kineke Alexander, who bettered Williams for the Midwest Region title, was the top qualifier with a 52.13. Current world leader, Natasha Hastings of South Carolina, ran 52.19 to win her heat.
Katie Baker ran in the same race as Williams, placing seventh with a time of 54.05. Also missing the next round of the men’s 400 was Justin Oliver, who clocked 47.11 for third place in his heat. A 47.07 was the final time qualifier for the second round.
Texas A&M had four other sprinters and hurdlers reach the semifinals of their respective events, but none were able to advance to the finals.
Richard Adu-Bobie recorded a season best of 10.29 in the 100-meter semifinal, just off his career best of 10.28, to place seventh in heat one. Earlier in the afternoon Adu-Bobie produced a windy 10.23 to claim third in his first-round race.
Lucas and Adeoti joined Facey in the first round of the women’s 100 qualifying and even ran in the same heat. Lucas moved on to the semifinal by running 11.45 for fourth place in the same heat with Facey. In the semifinal Lucas clocked 11.46 for seventh place. Adeoti, meanwhile, ran 11.77 for seventh place.
A career best hurdle time of 13.34 advanced Henry to the semifinals of the 100 hurdles where she was joined by Jennifer Williams, who ran 13.31 for fifth place in heat one.
Henry, who placed fourth in her heat, improved from No. 9 to No. 6 on the A&M all-time performers list in the 100 hurdles.
During the semifinals, Williams improved to 13.29 for seventh in heat two as Henry placed eighth in heat one with a 13.54.
Two of the field events Aggie women contested on Wednesday didn’t produce a finalist.
Caroline Wolf needed three attempts at 5-9 ¾ (1.77) and then missed three times at 5-10 ¾ (1.80), the height that determined who advanced to the final. In the long jump, a third round effort of 20-2 ¼ (6.15) was the best of the day for Ashika Charan, but a mark of 20-4 ½ (6.21) was needed to reach the finals.
Women’s pre-meet team favorite Arizona State suffered some setbacks in the field events. In both the discus and the hammer the Sun Devils only advanced one of the three throwers they entered in each event.
LSU, predicted to contend for the team title as well, had two long jumpers and a high jumper fail to reach the final in their respective events. On the track the Tigers advanced two runners to the 100-meter hurdle final and one of three sprinters to the 100 final. In the 400 LSU had two sprinters advance to the semifinal while one of two moved on in the 800.