Kristen Brown advanced to the NCAA Championships in the pole vault to pace the No. 18 San Diego State University track and field team at the NCAA West Prelims Thursday in Fayetteville, Arkansas.
Brown qualified for the finals in the pole vault by posting a mark of 13 feet, 7 inches (4.14m). Brown never missed a height, clearing 12-03.25 (3.74m), 12-09.00 (3.89m), 13-03.00 (4.04m) and 13-07.00 (4.14m) en route to securing one of the 12 spots (out of 48 entrants) from the west region into the NCAA Championships in Eugene, Oregon, from June 11-14. She was one of only four athletes to not miss an attempt on the day.
Kristen Brown is a junior.
"Today was an up and down day, but it certainly ended on a high," head coach Shelia Burrell said. "The best part of the day was watching Kristen Brown qualify for the finals. After getting rained out last year, it was great to see her make it to the NCAA Championships this year."
"What fueled me this year was last year's (NCAA) regional meet where I was so terrible," Brown said. "I've worked so hard because I know how bad I felt and I don't ever want to feel that way again.
"My mindset was to make the bar on each attempt. Pole vault coach Rich Fox had me thinking that if I made the first attempt, I wouldn't have that pressure later on. I wasn't concerned about raising the bar, just focused on clearing whatever was in front of me."
Allison Reaser led the way for the Aztecs on the track, as she qualified for Friday's quarterfinals in the 400-meter hurdles. Competing in rainy conditions, Reaser finished second in her heat and sixth overall out of 48 entrants with a time of 57.80 seconds. It was the third-fastest time in school history and 0.57 seconds faster than her previous collegiate-best time.
Reaser, one of 24 to qualify for the quarterfinals, will need to finish either in the top three of her heat or be one of the next three-fastest finishers to earn a trip to Eugene in the 400 hurdles. The three heats are slated to start at 7:45 p.m. on May 30. Reaser has already qualified for the championship meet in the heptathlon.
"I am very happy for Allison Reaser, who ran a lifetime best," Burrell said. "She ran a smart, fast race and has a big day ahead of her tomorrow with three events (also the first round of the 100 hurdles and 200)."
Seven others competed on Thursday, but nobody advanced. Brittany Bozeman came in 19th in the long jump with a leap of 19-08.00 (5.99m), while Jasmine Burrell was 20th in the shot put at 50-00.75 (15.26m). Nicole Oudenaarden was 22nd in the javelin throw (150-00 (45.73m)) and 34th in the long jump (18-09.25 (5.72m)), Kortney Ross came in 23rd in the pole vault (12-09.00 (3.89m)), Meritzer Williams took 34th in the 100 (11.92), Shanieka Thomas was 46th in the long jump (17-10.25 (5.44m)) and Karen Snapper competed in the pole vault (no height).
"The girls in the long jump couldn't get it going today," Burrell said. "But I think we'll bounce back tomorrow."
SDSU is back in action at 3 p.m. Friday with the discus throw (Jasmine Burrell), followed by the triple jump (Thomas) at 5 p.m., 100 hurdles first round (Brown and Reaser) at 5:30 p.m. CT, 400 hurdles quarterfinal (Reaser) at 7:45 p.m. CT and 200 first round (Williams) at 8:25 p.m. CT.
"I'm excited for the 100 hurdles," Brown said. "My practices have been great and coach Michelle Freeman has me prepared. I just want to have fun and see what I can do."