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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - VMI's Felix Kitur used a strong finishing kick over the final 150 meters to win his quarterfinal race in the 800-meters at the NCAA East Preliminary Round, contested Friday night at North Florida's Hodges Stadium in Jacksonville, Fla. With the win, Kitur advances to the main portion of the NCAA Championships, which will take place June 6-9 in Des Moines, Iowa.
Kitur clocked in at 1:47.96 to win a heat for the second straight night, and sixth time in eight career races at this event. He has now qualified for his fourth career appearance at the main portion of the NCAA Championships, and his Friday effort marked a seasonal best.
The race got off to a quick start, with Kitur sitting in fourth after the opening 200-meters. Lance Roller of Virginia, who entered with the second-fastest time in the region, went to the front with a 25.67 split, and Kitur trailed in 25.98 through the first 200-meters. The VMI standout continued to run fourth after the next 200-meters, as his opening 400 was completed in 52.72 seconds.
Shortly after crossing the line, Kitur made a move towards the front at approximately the 500-meter mark, as he surged by Donte Holmes (Delaware State) and Brendon Fish (Binghamton) to go into second place. His 27.53 third split was the second-quickest of any runners, and he continued to run second coming into the final 200-meters.
Coming around the final curve, Kitur made a power move to the outside and passed Roller, going to the front and taking the win and first automatic qualifying berth. After his 27.72 second closing 200, Kitur was the only runner in his heat to complete each 200-meters in under 28 seconds. He defeated two runners, Roller and David Mokone (Western Kentucky), who entered the meet seeded above him.
In addition, Jennifer Sing's historic career came to an end, as she cleared only the opening height of 3.65 meters (11'11 ¾") in the women's pole vault. The clearance gave Sing a tie for 35th-place, as ties were not broken unless needed to determine qualifiers.
Sing ends her career with three straight All-Big South honors, school records in both the indoor and outdoor versions of her discipline, seven straight seasons that saw an improved personal best and two scoring efforts at the ECAC Championships, performances that made her the first Keydet woman to ever achieve that feat. She was also the first VMI woman to clear both the 12 foot mark and the 13 foot mark.
"Today was a special day for our program," said VMI head coach Darrin Webb. "Felix made his fourth NCAA Championship, with a seasonal best effort, and ran two very good races to win against some of the best 800-meter runners in America. He is peaking at the right time, and I am excited for him and the opportunity he will have in Des Moines. Today was also the final day of Jennifer Sing's outstanding career. During her career, she improved more than virtually any other athlete I have ever been around. Over her four years, she improved more than six feet in the pole vault, which is amazing. It was a pleasure to work with this class, but these two were among the best. I am excited for them both as we go forward."
VMI track and field returns to action June 6-9, when Kitur runs the 800-meters at the NCAA Championships in Des Moines, Iowa.