May 20, 2013
MADISON, Wis. -- Months of hard work and competition will be put to the test this Thursday through Saturday when the Badgers open NCAA competition and head to Austin, Texas, for the 2013 NCAA West Preliminary Round.
The Wisconsin women’s track and field team has qualified 10 competitors -- combining for 14 total entries -- in nine different events for the opening round of NCAA competition at Mike A. Myers Stadium.
Competition begins on Thursday at noon with field events, followed by running events starting at 4:30 p.m.
The Badgers will compete to finish among the top 12 in their individual events, which is the cutoff for advancing to the 2013 NCAA Outdoor Championships. The national meet is set for June 5-8 in Eugene, Ore.
Last year, eight Badgers advanced to the NCAA championships and several of UW’s returning athletes -- including senior Caitlin Comfort (10,000 meters), sophomore Kelsey Card (discus) senior Taylor Smith (shot put), senior Dorcas Akinniyi (heptathlon) and junior Deanna Latham (heptathlon) -- will compete to advance to the NCAA championships again this season.
Akinniyi and Latham have qualified directly to the 2013 NCAA Outdoor Championships in the heptathlon for a second-consecutive year. After posting a score of 5,493 points earlier this season -- the best by a Big Ten athlete this year -- Latham enters the competition as the 10th seed, while the 5,411 points Akinniyi scored to win the Big Ten title last week has her seeded 16th.
The seven-discipline competition is the only women’s event to not be contested this weekend at the preliminary round sites.
While both Latham and Akinniyi are already guaranteed a trip to the NCAA championships in the heptathlon, both athletes will also look to add to their NCAA qualifying events this weekend.
Latham is one of three Badgers to boast top-12 seeds for the preliminary round, as her career-best run of 13.15 seconds in the 100 hurdles at the Big Ten meet places her as the No. 9 seed in that event.
Latham will also compete in the long jump, after her career-best mark of 19 feet, 6 3/4 inches from the Big Ten meet is good for the No. 43 seed.
Akinniyi will compete in the high jump, sitting at No. 41 in the seeding with a clearance of 5-8 1/2.
Wisconsin is represented in all four throws events, with Smith leading the way in the shot put. She stands at the No. 6 seed at 56-11 1/2 inches, while sophomore Kelsey Card will compete head to head with Smith in the event as the No. 25 seed.
Smith and Card will also compete alongside each other in the discus. Card’s throw of 178-7 from earlier in the season is good for the No. 15 seed, while Smith’s season-best throw of 177-5 places her at the No. 17 seed.
Additionally, three Badgers will compete in the hammer throw. Smith enters the meet in the No. 29 seed, after recording a school-record throw of 193-0 at the Wisconsin Open on May 4. No. 36-seeded sophomore Angela Boushea and No. 37-ranked junior Abby Lueck head into the meet with the mark of 188-5.
Redshirt freshman Brianna Bower will represent Wisconsin in the javelin, entering the meet in the No. 47 seed behind a career-best throw of 145-10.
On the track, Comfort -- the newly crowned Big Ten champion in the 10,000 meters -- enters the weekend at the No. 12 seed in the event after winning the conference title with a time of 33:30.16.
Comfort ran to a ninth-place finish in a time of 34:09.99 seconds at last year’s NCAA West Preliminary Round and will look to place in the top 12 again this year in order to advance.
Competing alongside Comfort in the 10,000 meters will be redshirt freshman Gabrielle Anzalone, who enters the meet seeded No. 29 after taking fourth at the Big Ten championships with a time of 34:52.91.
Coming off a fifth-place Big Ten finish in the 3000 steeplechase with a time of 10:15.36, Ashley Beutler will compete in the event as the No. 17 seed. The senior will look to better her 17th-place finish from last year’s NCAA preliminary round.