May 27, 2010
Rice senior Shakera Reece and freshman Heather Olson advanced to the quarterfinal round, while junior Ari Ince topped 13 feet for the first time in the pole vault to highlight Rice efforts in the first day of the NCAA West Track & Field Regional at the Mike A. Myers Track & Soccer Stadium in Austin, Texas on Thursday.
"We had a really good first day," Rice head coach Jim Bevan said. "We had two lifetime bests, and another season best. The ladies came out and competed today."
Reece, looking to earn her third trip to the NCAA Championships, qualified eighth in the 100 meters with a time of 11.59. She was second in her heat, as Scottesha Miller of Oklahoma edged Reece with a clocking of 11:56. Reece will run for a berth in the NCAA at 6:15 on Friday night, then return to the track less than two hours later for the first round of races in the 200 meters. The top three in each of the three quarterfinals of the 100 meters, plus the next three fastest times will advance to the NCAA Championships in Eugene, Oregon from June 9-12.
"Shakera has really looked great the last six weeks, and she continued that tonight," Bevan said. "She's in a great position to move on to nationals. Heather Olsen just continues to impress. She's one of the best freshmen in the nation and she really competed well for her first time at this level. She's got a great chance to do even better on Saturday," he added.
Olsen knocked nearly two seconds off her previous best in the 1,500, finishing in 4:24.29, which also ranks as the fastest clocking by an Owl in 2010. She will run in the quarterfinals on Saturday night, with the top five in each of the two races, plus the next two fastest times advancing to Oregon.
Although she did not advance, Bevan was excited by Ince's efforts in the pole vault.
"Ari has been adjusting to a new pole and you can really see it starting to come together. It was a battle, but she finally got over 13 feet, and her last jump was a monster. If they measured from where she cleared the bar, she was easily over 14 feet. This really sets her up for an exciting senior year," he added.
Ince entered the competition at 3.90m/12-09.50 and cleared it on her first attempt. After missing her first two attempts, she cleared 4.00m/13-01.50 on her final try to establish a personal record, then repeated the scenario at 4.05m/13-03.50, clearing the height on her final attempt.
In the 800 meters, sophomore Keltie John found herself trapped along the inside for most of her race, but still ran a season-best 2:09.12 to fall two spots shy of advancing to the quarterfinal round. Senior Vicki Walker struggled to a 2:37.76 clocking.
In addition to Reece, two other Owls will be in action on Friday. Kim Stanford will compete in the first round of the 100 meter hurdles at 5 pm, while freshman Halsey Fowler will race for a berth at nationals when she competes in the third of three heats of the 3,000 meter steeplechase late on Friday evening. The top three in each heat, plus the next three fastest times advance to the NCAA Championships.