TERRE HAUTE, Ind. – The Indiana State track & field team will be sending their largest contingent of athletes to post-season action in the three-year history of the current system as 16 Sycamores have been accepted for the NCAA East Preliminary round.
The NCAA East will be held at the University of North Florida in Jacksonville, Fla., May 24-26, with the top 12 finishers in each event advancing to the NCAA Championships June 6-9 at Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa.
“This is a good group of athletes that we are taking,” John McNichols, Indiana State track & field men’s head coach said. “This is the largest number we have had accepted under the new system.”
Five women will be making the trip including junior Leeann Michl in the 800 meters, junior Stacia Weatherford in the 400 hurdles, junior Richelle Kimble in the pole vault, junior Felisha Johnson in the shot put, discus, and hammer throw, and junior Mary Theisen in the shot put and discus.
They will be joined by 11 members of the Sycamore men’s team including senior Jeremiah Vaughan in the 1,500 meters, junior Dustin Betz in the 3,000 meter steeplechase, senior Craig Padgett and junior Albaro Escalera in the 10,000 meters, sophomore Greggmar Swift and sophomore Maurice Lyke in the 110 meter high hurdles, senior Major Clay and freshman Jonathon Christensen in the high jump, senior Ernest Rollins in the triple jump, and junior Brandon Pounds in the hammer throw.
One other Sycamore may be accepted into the competition if there are enough scratches before the competition. Sophomore Chris Fields missed making the cut by just a half-inch in the shot put but could be called into action if three declared athletes decide not to compete.
Michl and Weatherford will be making their second appearance at the NCAA East as each was a part of the 4x400 meter relay team that competed for the Sycamore women at the 2010 NCAA East competition and finishing 19th overall.
Kimble is making her third trip to the NCAA East in the pole vault but has yet to clear the opening height, something that she is looking to do this year.
Johnson is also making her third trip to the NCAA East. The junior was sixth in the hammer and ninth in the shot put at the 2011 NCAA East competition to advance to the NCAA Championships while also competing in the shot put at the 2010 NCAA East where she placed 15th.
Theisen transferred to Indiana State from Winona State where she won the NCAA Division II national title in the discus. She was also an All-American in the weight throw, shot put and discus during her time at Winona State.
Major Clay will be competing in the post-season for the fourth straight year. The Sycamore has advanced to the NCAA Championships every year and is looking to continue that streak this year. Clay tied for eighth at the 2011 NCAA East and finished fourth at the 2010 NCAA east while placing fifth at the Mid-East Regional in 2009.
Pounds is returning to the post-season after missing the 2011 campaign with an injured hand. He was 19th in the shot put and 36th in the discus at the 2010 NCAA East competition while also finishing seventh at the Mid-East Regional in 2009.
The NCAA moved away from a regional system after the 2009 season and instituted a two-site preliminary round competition for the NCAA Championships.
Vaughan will be running in the 1,500 meters for the second straight year after finishing 42nd in the event a year ago.
Swift is also making his second straight appearance in the 110 meter hurdles after just missing the cut to advance to the NCAA Championships a year ago with a 13th place finish in 13.93 seconds.
Rollins is the third member of the group that is appearing in the post-season for the second straight year after placing 31st in the triple jump a year ago.
Betz, Padgett, Escalera, Lyke, Tuttle, and Christensen are all appearing in post-season action for the first time.
Indiana State sent 14 athletes (nine women and five men) to the 2010 NCAA East competition with 12 athletes (four women and eight men) competing at the 2011 NCAA East.