Road to the NCAA Championships: First Stop, Texas
CHICAGO - To many, Memorial Day weekend commemorates the men and women who served in the United States military and signifies the unofficial beginning of summer. To eight members of the DePaul men's and women's track and field team, it also means the start of their quest to reach the NCAA Championships. This weekend, May 27-29, the Blue Demons travel to Austin, Texas for the NCAA Championship West Preliminary Round.
A program-high eight student athletes, including Melissa Fraser, Alanna Kovacs, Mary Cate Quiett, Matthew Graham, Brad Millar, Tim Nedow, Joe Strawder and Tonderai Tomu, have qualified for this year's postseason action. Between them, they will compete in 11 different events beginning at 5:30 p.m. (CST) on Thursday evening, when Kovacs and Fraser compete in the javelin, and Nedow battles the field of 48 in the shot put.
To make it to the through the preliminaries and compete for a shot at the national title a student-athlete must place in the top-12. Those 12 will join the top-12 from the East region prelims on June 9-12, in Eugene, Oregon for the 2010 NCAA Dvision I Track and Field Championship.
Millar enters the meet with the highest seed, ranking sixth in the hammer throw competition. Last season, he went to the NCAA Championship after placing fourth in at the Mideast Regional. His first attempt in the ring is scheduled for 2 p.m. on Friday afternoon.
Also ranked in the top-10 is 2008 NCAA Championship qualifier Fraser, who touts the seventh ranked javelin throw of 51.47m. In addition to Friday's javelin competition, the junior returns on Saturday at 3 p.m. for the hammer throw.
On the track, Quiett and Tomu line up for the first round of the 800m and 400m, respectively, on Thursday evening. The top three from each heat, plus the next six fastest times will continue on to the quarter finals on Friday.
Graham will conclude action on the track for DePaul on Friday evening, when the sophomore races in the 3,000m steeplechase. He exploded onto the regional rankings following a third-place performance in the 3,000m steeplechase at the BIG EAST Championship. His time of 8:51.48 was an incredulous 19-second improvement from his previous personal-best time. The sophomore has placed in the top-three in five steeplechase races this season, after winning ever regular-season cross country race in the fall.
Live results can be followed at www.DePaulBlueDemons.com, as well as the track and field Twitter page. Free video coverage of track events and select field events will be offered by host school Texas.