After last week’s NCAA West Preliminaries, six members of the Texas State track and field team qualified for the NCAA Outdoor Championships.
Allie Saunders, senior jumper, will compete in the triple and long jump at the NCAA Outdoor Championships June 10 through June 13 in Eugene, Oregon.
This will be Saunders’ second consecutive appearance in the outdoor championships. The stage is nothing new to her.
Saunders’ triple jump of 13.64 meters, a school record, gives her momentum going into the competition.
“I think she focuses more on training for the triple jump and we just kinda let the long jump happen,” said Coach Dana Boone. “I don’t think she does much prep work for it ‘cause she tends to over-think that a little bit, so I think the coaches have just been working on her triple jump.”
Anicka Newell, senior pole vaulter, has been to the NCAA Outdoor Championships before with an appearance in last year’s meet.
Newell has shown she is ready after tallying a height of 4.28 meters in the women’s pole vault at the Sun Belt Conference Championships, which was a Texas State record. Newell later recorded a height of 4.24 meters at the NCAA West Preliminaries to qualify for the outdoor championships.
“With Anicka, my biggest thing for her is, ‘Hey, you’re ready,’” Boone said. “’Just go out there and do your thing and see if we can’t get on that podium.’ ‘Cause she’s ready and that’s what she feels she is capable of doing.”
The men’s 4×400 relay team of James Hilliard (junior sprinter), Anthony Johnson (junior sprinter), De’Marcus Porter (freshman sprinter), and De’Quad Binder (junior sprinter) narrowly qualified for the NCAA Outdoor Championships with their time of 3:06.08.
“We talked to them before we competed earlier in that day. We said, ‘Hey guys, run for each other. Do your job so the next person doesn’t have to. If everybody does their job, and does what they’re supposed to do, we’ll be good,” Boone said.
Johnson, Binder and Hilliard have been a part of the preliminaries before, but it was Porter’s first time competing in the preliminaries.
“The dude just has heart. He just works and competes,” said Sprints and Hurdles Coach Giles McDonnell. “You just don’t know what that kid is going to do because he is just that competitive.”
This will be the first time competing at the NCAA Championships for all the members of the 4×400 relay team.
“Each one did their jobs, and that’s what made the difference,” Boone said. “That’s why we’re going to nationals. We’ve had some great half-relays, three-quarters of relays, but never four legs on the same day at the same time. You see what happens when that does happen. I think they understand the importance of that now.”
In preparation, Boone is trying to let the athletes work out on their own without saying too much so as to prevent unnecessary pressure. Boone does not want the team to second-guess themselves.
“We definitely are enjoying that the fruits of our labor are finally coming together,” Boone said. “At the same time, it’s not over. We want to go to Eugene and see if we can’t break the school record and possibly become first team All-Americans.”