Aztecs Qualify for Nationals in Three Events; Finish Seventh at NCAA West Regionals
May 31, 2008
NORTHRIDGE, Calif. - San Diego State qualified two athletes in three events on the final day of the NCAA West Regional Championships at Matador Track and Field Complex in Northridge, Calif., on Saturday. The Aztecs earned 42 points to place seventh among 29 scoring institutions, marking their second consecutive top-10 finish at regionals. SDSU was also the top scoring non-Pac-10 Conference school for the second straight year.
Sherraine Pencil became the second Aztec automatic national qualifier, joining pole vault champion Stephanie Bagan, after she finished in third place in the 400-meter dash. The senior from Toronto, Canada, ran 53.499 and was just barely edged for second by Oregon's Keshia Baker who clocked in with a time of 53.492. This marks the second straight season in which Pencil will compete for a national championship in the event after coming in second at the regional meet one year ago.
Later in the afternoon, Pencil qualified for nationals in a second event, this time securing a spot in the 200-meter dash after placing fifth with a time of 24.13. Much like the 400, Pencil will be making her second appearance at the national meet in the competition. Teammate Shana Solomon, meanwhile, did not share the same fate as Pencil after she finished in seventh place (24.50).
Decontee Kaye joined Bagan and Pencil as automatic qualifiers with her runner-up performance in the triple jump. The Mountain West Conference back-to-back outdoor champion in the event leaped 42 feet, 11.75 inches to guarantee herself a spot at the national championships. This is the second consecutive season in which she has finished second at the regional meet. Junior classmate Shana Watson also competed in the same flight and finished seventh overall with a leap of 41-2.50.
In the first track event of the day, the 4x100-meter relay, three berths to nationals were up for grabs for eight participating teams. Unfortunately for the Aztec quartet of Pencil, Solomon, Alicia Lowery and Kaye, came up .07 seconds short of finishing in the top three after the group completed the race in 44.98. The relay was closely contested as the top four schools were separated by .50 seconds. Despite not automatically qualifying for the outdoor championships, the relay may still receive an invitation to the national meet, which will be announced next week.
Similar to the 4x100 relay, Briana Johnson just missed out on advancing to nationals after she finished sixth with a time of 13.94. The top five qualify for the NCAA Championships and the freshman from Orlando, Fla., was .18 seconds shy of being a part of the elite field. Nevertheless, Johnson still earned SDSU three points toward its regional team point total and still may receive an invitation to the national meet.
In the 800-meter run, Mandy Upuu finished in eighth place after crossing the finish line in 2:09.41. The senior stayed with the pack for more than 400 meters when the group began to separate. Overall, Upuu's time was her third-best performance of 2008.
To close out the two-day meet, San Diego State had Pencil, Kyanna Thomas, Kaye and Upuu run in the 4x400-meter relay. In the first of two heats, SDSU held the lead after 800 meters, but fell into second just before the third leg. When it was all said and done, the Aztecs posted the heat's second-best time at 3:41.84. Overall, the quartet finished eighth and their effort was not enough to get them into the top three as those squads came from Heat 2.
Next up for San Diego State is the NCAA Outdoor Championships, June11-14, in Des Moines, Iowa. The Aztecs will take Bagan, Pencil and Kaye and any other athletes who receive invitations, which are to be announced next week.
NCAA West Regional Championships