By Kenny Bybee (firstname.lastname@example.org)
AUSTIN, Texas -- Rice junior thrower Evan Karakolis (javelin), sophomore thrower Erik Maher (javelin) and senior vaulter Chris Pillow (pole vault) each competed on the final day of the NCAA West Prelims Saturday afternoon at the University of Texas.
Karakolis just missed out on qualifying for the NCAA Outdoor Championships, placing 14th overall (top 12 advance) out of 48 athletes with a throw of 66.51m (218-02.00) in the javelin. The Ontario native came up just 0.8 meters shy of North Dakota State's Matti Mortimore (67.31m), who held the 12th and final qualifying spot. Karakolis won three times during the 2015 season and placed fourth at the C-USA Championships.
Maher, from North Caldwell, N.J., finished 45th overall (56.28m) in the javelin in his first career NCAA West Prelims.
Pillow, who entered the meet seeded eighth (5.41m), was one of two vaulters to pass until the bar reached 5.30m (17-04.50). However, the five-time C-USA champion was unable to clear the bar in his three attempts. Three of Pillow's 19 career victories came this outdoor season and the Mechanicsville, Virginia native closed his Rice career as a two-time All-American and might still compete at the USATF Championships (June 26-28) while wearing a Rice uniform.
"This meet overall was especially tough for us," Rice men's track and field head coach Jon Warren said. "We came in with some high expectations for a few of our guys and sometimes when you don't live up to them it's disappointing. But to even have those expectations in the first place says something about their ability. Evan threw OK and still almost advanced and with Chris, sometimes that's just the nature of the vault. He's pretty down today but he'll go down as one of the best athletes we've ever had at Rice."
The Owls will still be represented at the NCAA Outdoor Championships (June 10-13) by sophomore Scott Filip, who earned an automatic berth to compete in the decathlon with his 7632 points in his victory at the C-USA Championships.