Bulldogs Making History Before Regionals
Sharon Ayala is one of Fresno State's top competitors going into the NCAA West Regional Meet this weekend.
Sharon Ayala is one of Fresno State's top competitors going into the NCAA West Regional Meet this weekend.

May 28, 2008

FRESNO, Calif. - The Fresno State track and field team has already left its mark in the Bulldog history book. The 2008 team has qualified 21 athletes, the most in school history, for the NCAA West Regional slated for May 30-31. Fourteen women and seven men have earned bids to the regional.

For the women, two more athletes, Kristina Jackson and Hilliard, added their names to the individual qualifiers list at the WAC Championship two weeks ago. Jackson, the lone female veteran of the regional meet, registered a personal-best 13.79 for second-place in the 100-meter hurdles. Hilliard, WAC Freshman of the Year, qualified as an individual in the 200 after winning the conference title. Hilliard qualified at the 4x400 relay at the Mt. SAC Relays, along with teammates Christina Lopez, Erica McCoy and Marina Santana.

The throwing corps will be well-represented at the Regional Meet as five throwers hit qualification marks this season. Leading the throwers is junior Sharon Ayala. Ayala shattered the Fresno State hammer throw record three times this season, topping out at 203-4 (61.98m) at the Mt. SAC Relays. Her mark is more than 25-0 further than the qualifying mark of 177-8 (54.15m) and the 18th best throw in the nation. Ayala also won the WAC title in the event last weekend. Grace Wiesmann will also compete in the regional in the hammer. The junior tossed a personal-best 178-0.5 (54.29m) to win the event at the Cal-Poly Dual. The freshman shot put record for the Bulldog no longer stands, thanks to both Rosario Sanchez and Kayla Xavier. Both Sanchez's 49-5.75 (15.08m) and Xavier's 48-2 (14.68m) surpass the previous record of 46-11.75 (14.32m) set by La'Sha Hill in 2003 and qualify for the regional. Sanchez and Xavier each put up their best mark at the USC Invitational in March. Freshman Brooke Pighin rounds out the throwing contingent. The javelin thrower has a season-best of 154-7 (47.11m), for 27th in the NCAA and a regional-qualifying mark.



Sarah Savage continues Fresno State's tradition of pole vaulting excellence, having cleared the regional-qualifying mark of 12-7.5 (3.85m) at the Cal-Poly Dual to solidify a spot in the post-season.

On the track, Vanessa Sautebin will join Jackson in the 100 hurdles at regionals. Sautebin hit the perfect qualifying time of 13.92 at the Mt. SAC Relays. The distance runners have two representatives at the regionals. Senior Meredith Hawkins ran a 10:42.33 at the Brutus Hamilton Invite, more than eight seconds better than the qualifying mark. Roxanne Sellick also qualified at the Brutus Hamilton, with a 4:48.94 performance in the one mile. Her converted time of 4:27.44 qualifies her for the 1,500 at the regional meet. Sellick solidified her spot by winning the WAC title in the 1,500 last weekend.

The men, like the women, will have a strong showing in the throws at the Regional Meet. Brian Vazquez has the top mark for the Bulldogs in the hammer, tossing a 207-8 (63.29m) at the Mt. SAC Relays, putting him in 30th in the nation. Chris Witscher's 187-4 (57.10m) in the hammer throw from the Cal Poly Dual resulted in his second-straight qualification for the post-season. A veteran of the NCAA Regional Meet in the shot put, Oscar Rodriguez will be competing in two events this year. Rodriguez threw both the shot put and the hammer beyond the qualifying mark. The senior threw the hammer 190-10 (58.17m) and the shot 57-4.25 (17.48m), as the first double-qualifier for the Bulldogs on the season.

Sophomore Val-Pierre Dai'Re also qualified for two events: the 110 hurdles and the 400 hurdles. Dai'Re ran a 14.24 in the 110 hurdles at the USC Invite and the following week timed in at 51.80 to secure a post-season bid in the 400 hurdles. Kendrick Young earned a bid to the NCAA Regionals in the 400 hurdles, clocking in at 52.37 at the WAC Championships.

In the distance events, Frank Sanders will compete in both the 800 and the 1,500. Sanders ran a qualifying time of 1:50.08 in the 800 at the Mt. SAC Relays. Last week, Sanders championed the WAC in the 1,500 to make him a double-qualifier.

Gary Lee, a freshman, will compete in the long jump for the Bulldogs. Lee's leap of 25-6.25 (7.78m) from the Modesto Relays easily qualified him for Regionals. The distance by Lee breaks the freshman record in the event as well as ranking him 20th in the nation.

Check out the action at the Regional Website.

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