JACKSONVILLE, Florida. – A program-best five athletes from the Elon University women’s track and field team will begin competition at the 2014 NCAA Division East Preliminaries beginning on Thursday, May 29, at the University of North Florida.
The Phoenix quintet of Bria Bell (400-meters), Jennifer Esposito (400-meter hurdles), Sydney Griffin (100-meter hurdles), Megan Kirschling (high jump) and Allyson Oram (10,000-meters) will compete for the right to advance to the NCAA Outdoor Track & Field Championships in Eugene, Oregon on June 11-14.
“I’m so excited for each of the young ladies for this opportunity for themselves and for Elon,” said Elon head track and field coach Mark Elliston. “To have five athletes qualify – the most ever in school history – just shows where this program is headed. I’m looking forward to the next few days”
This is the second straight season that Elon has had an athlete compete at the NCAA Preliminary round and three out of the last four. The five competitors also best the previous program-high of two in 2006 and 2011. Elon nearly had six athletes qualify for the meet as sophomore Tereza Novotna just missed out in the 3,000-meter steeplechase by one spot and a timing of .1.
“Obviously, the goal of the program is to get stronger each and every year,” said Elon head cross country and assistant track and field coach Christine Engel. “It is certainly exciting to have our highest number of competitors at this year’s NCAA East Prelims.”
Bell won the 400-meters at the Southern Conference Outdoor Championships on May 27 with a school-record time of 53.95. The senior from East Brunswick, New Jersey, also earned outdoor All-SoCon honors with the 4×400-meter relay team.
“I’m ecstatic for Bria to experience this opportunity during her senior year,” added Elliston. “She bounced back from dealing with an injury during her junior year to come back really strong this year to set a new PR and earn a league championship.”
Esposito was also an outdoor conference champion in the 400-meter hurdles with a program-best time of 59.60. She also received outdoor All-SoCon marks in the 4×400-meter relay and a spot on the SoCon Outdoor All-Freshman team.
Griffin also had a gold medalist performance in the 100-meter hurdles at the SoCon Outdoor Championships and broke her own school-record in the event last weekend at the Wolfpack Last Chance Qualifier. The Marietta, Georgia, native clocked in a time of 13.56 in the event.
Kirschling set a new SoCon outdoor record in the high jump after clearing the bar at 5’10.5” (1.79m) at the league championships. She is also the highest-ranked Phoenix athlete in her event, sitting in the top-20 of the region.
Oram will represent the distance group in the 10,000-meters. The Marlborough, Massachusetts, native broke her own school-record in the event at the prestigious Stanford Invitational with a time of 34:49.59. She received All-SoCon outdoor accolades in the 5,000-meters.
“I couldn’t be more proud of Ally,” added Engel. “She has had a tremendous senior year and has shown improvement in each of her years at Elon. Qualifying for the NCAA Preliminaries is a culmination of four years of hard work, commitment and discipline.”
The first event for the Phoenix begins at 5:00 p.m. on Thursday as Esposito competes in the first round of the 400-meter hurdles. She will be followed by Bell in the first round of the 400-meter dash and Oram in the 10K at 7:30 p.m. and 9:40 p.m., respectively. Griffin and Kirschling will compete in their respective events the following day.