EDWARDSVILLE — The NCAA released the list of qualifiers for national preliminaries and the Southern Illinois University Edwardsville track and field program saw seven of its student-athletes included in the field.
"We're excited about this opportunity, and it says a lot about where we are right now as a program," coach Kareem Jackson said. "To have this many people on the qualifying list means a lot. They've worked their tails off both individually and collectively."
Four athletes on the women's team along with three on the men's team will represent the Cougars for the three-day meet that begins Thursday in Austin, Texas, at the NCAA Division I West Preliminaries. This will be the program's first time competing at the meet.
"This is not by chance," Jackson said. "As a program, this is something for which we've prepared. We have some very talented individuals who also worked extremely hard to get to this point. This is a tribute to them, and it's one more step to get to where we want to be."
On the women's team, seniorsColleen McDonoughandAftan Noonand sophomoresElizabeth HamplandJatavia Wrightqualified for SIUE.
Noon and Wright both qualified in track events for the Cougars. Noon will compete in both the 800 meters (2 minutes, 8.99 seconds) and the 1,500 meters (4:25.42) after she qualified with school record times in both events last weekend. Wright will run in the 100-meter hurdles with a qualifying time of 13.72, also a school record.
In the women's field events, McDonough and Hampl will compete in the hammer throw. McDonough qualified with a school record throw of 187 feet, 9 inches, while Hampl earned a spot with her final throw of the regular season last weekend (187-2.25).
On the men's side, sophomoresAhmad EvansandLa'Derrick Wardand freshmanDarius Smithwill make the trip to Austin.
In the track events, Evans finished among the top 25 qualifiers for both the 100 meters (10.41) and the 200 meters (21.17) with school records in both events. Smith will join Evans in the 100 meters after qualifying with a time of 10.54.
Ward was listed 23rdon the list of 48 qualifiers for the long jump, posting a season-best leap of 24-7.5 at the OVC Outdoor Championships.
Competition will begin Thursday at Mike A. Myers Stadium. Field events will begin at noon before track events start at 4:30 p.m.
"We'll talk to the athletes about not letting the meet consume them," Jackson added. "The fact that we're there means that we belong. We're not there to compete against some of these bigger programs; we're there to represent SIUE."