May 17, 2012
NCAA West Preliminary Round Qualifiers
MADISON, Wis. -- Wisconsin's trio of Dorcas Akinniyi, Jessica Flax and Deanna Latham will certainly live up to the title of "multi-event athlete" as NCAA postseason competition gets underway.
The three Badgers, who finished 1-2-3 in the heptathlon at last weekend's Big Ten championships, have each qualified to compete in multiple events at next week's 2012 NCAA West Preliminary Round. Accepted entries for the meet were released Thursday by the NCAA.
The trio highlights a group of 16 athletes that will represent the Badgers' women's team in Austin, Texas, May 24-26. Between men's and women's competition, Wisconsin is sending a total of 41 athletes south.
In addition, Akinniyi, Flax and Latham have each qualified directly to the 2012 NCAA Outdoor Championships in the heptathlon, which is not contested at the preliminary round.
In all other events, competitors will work to be among the top 12 athletes from each preliminary-round site that advance to the NCAA finals in Des Moines, Iowa, from June 6-9. In addition to the site in Austin, teams from the East Region will compete in a preliminary-round meet in Jacksonville, Fla.
Akinniyi leads the charge for UW as a preliminary-round qualifier in three events. In addition to her No. 9 seed for the national meet in the heptathlon, Akinniyi heads to Austin as the region's No. 16 seed in the high jump, No. 28 seed in the long jump and No. 45 seed in the 100-meter hurdles.
Monika Jakutyte, a three-time preliminary round qualifier, holds the No. 17 seed in the high jump and will compete alongside Akinniyi.
Flax -- who ranks No. 5 nationally in the heptathlon -- also holds the No. 27 seed for the preliminary round in the javelin and is seeded No. 36 in the 100-meter hurdles.
Latham is just ahead of her teammate as the No. 35 seed in the 100 hurdles.
The throws duo of Taylor Smith and Kelsey Card also qualified in multiple events and will compete for UW in both the shot put and discus. Smith is the No. 10 seed in the discus and No. 12 seed in the shot put, while Card, a freshman, is seeded 17th in the discus and 18th in the shot.
Jasmine Boyer joins her teammates as the No. 35 seed in the shot put, while Megan Rennhack is the No. 15 seed in the javelin.
On the track, junior Ashley Beutler is seeded eighth for the 3000-meter steeplechase after a third-place finish at the Big Ten championships. Sophomore Liga Blyholder also will push for an NCAA championships berth as the No. 12 seed in the 1500 meters.
Caitlin Comfort is seeded just outside advancement range as the No. 13 seed in the 10,000 meters.
The preliminary-round model is in its third year. Wisconsin qualified 18 athletes for last year's preliminary round in Eugene, Ore., and sent 23 athletes to Austin to the first preliminary round competition in 2010.
The NCAA previously utilized a four-region system for advancing athletes to the outdoor championships.