May 28, 2014
By: Andrew Rich
FRESNO, Calif. -- Ten Fresno State track and field athletes take to the national stage beginning Thursday at the 2014 NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championship West Prelims at John McDonnell Field in Fayetteville, Arkansas.
The Bulldogs head into the West Prelims with confidence gained from a successful meet at the 2014 Mountain West Championships.
Je'Nia Sears, Devin Harrison and Dezirae Johnson were individuals to bring home MW Championships and the 4x400 women's relay team also was victorious. Sears and Harrison swept the long jump events and go to Fayetteville with solid marks. Johnson won the 400-meter dash, but will compete in the 400-meter hurdles at the West Prelims.
"Coming off the MWC Championships performing well is always a positive and a mental boost," Fresno State head coach Scott Winsor said. "If we perform like we did at conference we should get a few through to the NCAA Finals. The athletes that are able to keep their composure are usually the ones that advance to the finals."
Sears will compete on Thursday in the women's long jump with the event getting underway at 12 p.m., PT. She will jump seventh in the fourth and final flight of the long jump. Harrison will also compete on Thursday, jumping second in the third flight of the men's long jump. That event gets underway at 4:30 p.m., PT.
The winning 4x400 women's relay team ran a season-best 3:39.29 to win at the MW Championships. The team of Sears, Dezirae Johnson, Njeri Omawahleh and Kyra Johnson is just a little more than a second away from approaching the school record time set in 1998. Winsor thinks the group has even more in them.
"The women's 4x400 ran very well," Winsor said. "I was very proud of them for two reasons: First, they ran totally by themselves the whole race, and second, if we improve our exchanges we can drop at least one second off that time. That 4x400 team is running with more confidence every time they step on the track."
Also competing on the opening day of the meet is thrower Meagan McKee. The senior will compete in both the shot put and the hammer. Her schedule gets started with the shot put at 4:30 p.m., PT, Thursday evening. McKee will be joined by teammate Caitlin Byrd in Saturday morning's hammer throw.
On Friday morning at 8 a.m., PT, senior Roderick Dash will compete in the hammer throw. He will throw with the second flight. Fellow senior Kevin Poythress runs in the 3,000-meter Steeplechase at 6:50 p.m., PT on Friday night. He is in the third and final heat.
Junior Brice Sandri will be the final Bulldog to compete. He competes in the men's discus on Saturday at 1 p.m., PT, on Saturday afternoon.
The tough competition that the Fresno State track and field team has been pitted against all season and a strong showing at the MW Championships has shown what this group can do and Winsor hopes it leads to more at this weekend's West Prelims.
"Without question some of the meets we have attended have added to the confidence level of our athletes and we saw that at the MW Championships," Winsor said. "No one panicked and they answered every time someone challenged them. It's fun to witness the maturity of young athletes throughout their career."
Video Broadcast Links
Thursday(Starts at 4:30 p.m. CT): http://bit.ly/TRznPg
Friday(Starts at 5 p.m. CT): http://bit.ly/1nRAY0h
Saturday( Starts at 6 p.m. CT): http://bit.ly/1oGN1iq
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