After a strong showing at the preliminary round, 16 British and Irish athletes survived the cut and have qualified for the NCAA Championships in Des Moines in June.
With only the top 12 to qualify from 48 starters in each region, early season form counted for nothing. A one off performance at regionals was needed to secure qualification, and as is always the case there were numerous big name casualties that failed to advance across the range of events. Florida sprinter Jeff Demps is one such example of an athlete who failed to qualify in the 100m despite being ranked number one going in to the event.
The combination of hot weather and being fatigued at the end of the long NCAA year meant that many athletes put in sub-par performances, well below what they had previously achieved earlier in the season to qualify. Timing peak form correctly is crucial with the way the NCAA calendar works, and getting things just slightly wrong can easily result in an unexpectedly early season ending.
As stated above, advancing 16 qualifiers to NCAAs out of 42 who competed at the preliminary rounds is a positive success rate.
Recent ‘A Standard’ achiever James Alaka continued his good form, qualifying comfortably over both 100m and 200m. Alaka will head to Des Moines in the form of his life, having set personal bests over both short sprint distances this season. He was also on relay duty for Washington in Austin, though his team narrowly came up one spot short of qualifying.
One athlete we have overlooked all season until this point was freshman Lorraine Ugen of TCU. The Blackheath and Bromley athlete showed huge versatility by qualifying for the NCAA’s in both the 100m and long jump. Ugen has a wealth of junior international experience competing for Great Britain, which could prove vital as she prepared for her maiden NCAA Outdoor Championship.
Indoor mile champion (Chris O’Hare) and runner up (Rich Peters) will get to renew their rivalry outdoors as both qualified with minimal hassle. Add in Miles Batty, Lawi Lalang, and new collegiate record holder Kyle Merber, and the men’s 1500m will surely be one of the highlights in Des Moines.
Mention has to also be given to the Wade twins (Tom and Joe). Not only were they at the same UK university (St Marys), the same US university (Lamar), but they also both compete in the steeplechase. No surprise then to find that they were drawn in the same heat at the West Preliminary in Austin. After finishing second and third they can now both look forward to each other’s company again for a trip to Des Moines.
Asides from James Alaka and Lorraine Ugen, the only other non middle or long distance qualifiers were Oklahoma State hammer thrower Nick Miller, and 400m hurdler Eseroghene Okoro (Iowa State).
The full list of British and Irish performances from the two regional meets is shown below. Qualifiers for the NCAA Championships are in red. We will run a full preview of each British and Irish qualifier when the declarations are out next week.