AUSTIN, Texas -- It went as well as Ashley Beutler could have hoped for.
Wait, check that.
"Better," the Wisconsin senior said.
As it turns out, no one in the storied history of the Badgers' distance program has ever run a better 3000-meter steeplechase than the one Beutler turned in early Saturday morning.
Running in what could have been her last race as a Badger, Beutler extended her season -- and career - with a fantastic effort that saw her smash the Badgers' school record and secure her first-ever NCAA championships berth in the span of 10 minutes and 4.02 seconds.
Though Beutler's race started much later than expected - beginning just past midnight after a three-hour delay due to thunderstorms - she managed to finish it sooner than even she anticipated.
"When I saw that second heat go and there were five girls under 10:09, I knew it was going to have to be top three or nothing," said Beutler, who shaved eight seconds off her previous personal best. "That's an awesome time."
Knowing that a top-three finish in her heat would automatically advance her, Beutler latched on to eventual heat winner Amber Henry of Weber State and remained tucked in second place for most of the race. Even a late stumble - "I just had nothing left," Beutler said - wasn't enough to offset the cushion she had built on third-place finisher Liberty Miller of Washington.
"(Henry) took it for me right away so I knew I had someone to sit on," Beutler said. "And they have that video (board), so I could see where people were without having to look back.
"That's definitely a confidence booster, to see there's a little gap."
Beutler's run toppled UW's school standard of 10:07.09, set by `A Havahla Haynes at the 2007 NCAA Outdoor Championships.
Six years later, Beutler can say she's headed to the same event. She will head there with fellow senior Caitlin Comfort, who qualified for the national meet with her run in the 10,000 meters on Thursday.
"I wrote her a card before her race and said, `We started this together five years ago on our first long run together the day we met,'" Beutler said. "I wanted to finish it up with her the right way, together at nationals."
Just shy of 12 hours after it began, the discus competition came to a close Friday at the 2013 NCAA West Preliminary Round in Austin, Texas. The duo of Card and Smith could not only take relief in the end of a long day, but relish its rewards, as well.
Both emerged from the event with spots secured for the NCAA championships, with Card taking third and Smith 10th to solidify their return to the national meet. A throw of 173 feet, 1 inch on her first attempt was enough for Smith to hang on to the top-12 finish she needed to advance, while Card waited until her final throw to unleash an effort of 177-4 that vaulted her into a tie for third.
Card will compete in the discus at the NCAA championships for the second-straight year after qualifying as a freshman in 2012, while Smith makes her first NCAA appearance in the event after qualifying for last year's meet in the shot put.
The results were a full day in the making thanks to a delay of 6 hours and 15 minutes resulting from slow-moving thunderstorms that brought torrential rain and lightning to Austin.
So, while neither needed to do anything beyond their normal range of effort to advance, it was the waiting game that proved to be the day's biggest hurdle.
"The worst part was not knowing," Card said. "I'm trying to get in that mental zone and it's like, `Am I going to compete in an hour or three?' You never knew."
Smith - throwing in the second of three flights - had gotten her first two attempts in before the weather hit. Her third throw came 6 1/2 hours later. Card, who followed in Flight 3, waited to simply get her day going.
"I got my good one (six) hours ago, so thank goodness for that one," Smith said.
Finally, the skies did clear and both made the most of their chances.
Both Smith and Card have the chance to double their workload in Eugene if they can also advance to the NCAA finals in the shot put. That competition begins at 6 p.m. Saturday.
"I'm excited," Card said. "Last year I didn't do well in the shot put on the first day, but this time I know I'm going and I just want to have fun and do my best. It's a big relief."
Junior Deanna Latham will also have the chance to chase a spot in the NCAA championships after her effort Friday in the first round of the 100 hurdles. Two weeks removed from running the fastest all-conditions time in school history at 13.15 to finish as the Big Ten runner-up, Latham once again put together a strong effort.
Running into a slight headwind, Latham got out well and held on for a runner-up finish in her heat in 13.91 seconds that automatically advanced her to Saturday's quarterfinals.
Like Latham, senior Dorcas Akinniyi has already qualified directly to the NCAA championships in the heptathlon, but she was unable to add a berth in the high jump.
Akinniyi made it look easy at the opening height of 5 feet, 5 inches by clearing the bar on her first attempt. She was unable to get over at 5-7, however, after just nicking the bar with her foot on her third and final attempt.
The Badgers wrap up their competition in Austin on Saturday with four athletes in three events. Freshman Brianna Bower competes in the javelin at 5 p.m., while Smith and Card chase their second NCAA bids at 6 p.m. On the track, Latham runs in the quarterfinals of the 100 hurdles at 7:05 p.m.
Friday Results Women's 100 Hurdles - First Round 12. Deanna Latham (13.91) - advanced to quarterfinal