By Kenny Bybee (firstname.lastname@example.org)
EL PASO, Texas -- The Rice Owls women's track and field squad will enter the final day of the Conference USA Outdoor Championships in fourth place (30 points) following a Saturday that saw three lifetime best performances.
Sophomore Ijeoma Ugwunze began the day by placing fourth in the discus with a lifetime best throw of 48.94m (160-07) to earn five team points. The Owls also got a fourth place finish from freshman Ayane Rossano in the pole vault, who also set an outdoor season-best with a leap of 3.62m (11-10.50) for another five points.
The Owls had four runners advance to Sunday finals, beginning with a third and fourth place finish from Elsa Racasan (4:48.77) and Allie Schaich (4:49.38), respectively, in the 1500m prelims.
Later in the evening Meredith Gamble set a personal best time of 2:18.80 to place fourth in the 800m prelims while Fabiola Andujar-Perez (2:20.28) also advanced with a seventh place finish.
Sophomore Hannah Kay also scored a point for the Owls with a seventh place finish in the 3000m steeplechase to close the evening.
"It was a day of extreme positive surprises and a few disappointments," Rice women's T&F head coach Jim Bevan said. "Ijeoma started us off with a big personal best in the discus and came out fourth despite being seeded seventh. We had no one seeded to make the finals in the 800 and had two make the finals. Both Elsa and Allie were second in their heats and looked great in the 1500 and in the steeplechase Hannah scored two points with a seventh place finish in her very first effort in the event. Ayane had a great vault as well finishing fourth. We did have a few disappointments. McKenzie Johnson was not healthy and was unable to vault and Marielle and Alicia had problems with the wind and no heighted. We are looking forward to the final day tomorrow!"
WKU leads the 13 team field with 59 points, followed by UTEP (37) and Charlotte (33 points).