June 12, 2014
EUGENE, Oregon - Rice freshman distance runner Cali Roper culminated a stellar freshman campaign by placing 22nd in the 10,000m run at Thursday's NCAA Outdoor Championships at Hayward Field.
Roper, from Conroe, Texas, was one of just five freshmen in the nation to qualify for the event and finished fourth amongst those competitors. Roper's time of 34:34.33 was just a second off of her NCAA West Prelims qualifying time (34:33.16) two weeks ago in Fayetteville, Arkansas.
"Cali completed an awesome freshman year, competing in her first national meet as a freshman," Rice women's track and field head coach Jim Bevan said. "We've only had two other distance runners even make nationals as a freshman. She ran a courageous race, going out faster than she's ever gone out and that's what she had to do. She went through the first 5k as fast as she had run all out for that distance just three months ago (16:45). She gained valuable experience for the future and she'll be back here, older, wiser and fitter. What an awesome freshman year."
Roper, who earned USTFCCCA All-America Honorable Mention honors, finished the 2014 campaign with a C-USA Outdoor title in the 10,000m and also placed second in the C-USA Indoor Championships in the 5,000m. She began the academic season with a second place finish at the C-USA Cross Country Championships before finishing 13th at the 2013 Cross Country South Central Regional.
Boise State's Emma Bates (32:32.35) edged out C-USA champion Elinor Kirk of UAB (32:39.99) on the final stretch for the national title.
The Rice women will still have three more competitors in Oregon with sophomore vaulter McKenzie Johnson set to compete on Friday at 5:15 p.m. (CT).