Elon Track and Field – Five to Compete at NCAA East Region Preliminaries

ELON, N.C. – The Elon University women’s track and field team had five members of its team qualify for the 2015 NCAA Division I East Preliminary Round in Jacksonville, Fla., as announced on Thursday, May 21. The meet is scheduled for May 28-30, hosted by the University of North Florida.

The Phoenix will send the quintet of Jen Esposito (400-meter hurdles), Sydney Griffin (100-meter hurdles), Kimberly Johansen (1,500-meters), Megan Kirschling (high jump) and Tereza Novotna (3,000-meter steeplechase) to the regional meet after each athlete finished within the top-48 of their respective events. This is also the second straight year that Elon has qualified a program-best five athletes for the NCAA Preliminaries.

The Phoenix, who became the first Elon program to earn a conference team championship in its first year in the Colonial Athletic Association, also had the most individual qualifiers for the meet in the league.

“We’re excited to have that many athletes make it again this year (to the NCAA East Preliminaries),” said Elon director of track and field and cross country, Mark Elliston. “It’s just a testament to their hard work and dedication. They are all representatives across the board of their different events. We set out to accomplish some things this season and they rose above that and now we get to see how we finish it up.”

Esposito will make her second straight appearance at the regional meet in the 400-meter hurdles after finishing 33rd overall during last year’s competition. The Mansfield, Mass., native heads into this year’s preliminary round sitting 13th on the entry list after breaking her own school-record with a time of 57.75 at the Duke Twilight on May 6. She also won the Colonial Athletic Association championship in the race on May 2.

Griffin also returns to the NCAA East Region for the second straight year in the 100-meter hurdles. The Marietta, Ga., native clinched her spot for the regional meet after she clocked a 13.53 at the Aggie Last Chance Meet on May 17, breaking her previous school-record in the process. She finished as the runner-up in the event at the CAA Championship meet.

Kirschling also reached the NCAA East Preliminaries last season in the high jump and enters the meet seeded 33rd overall. The junior from West Deptford, N.J., cleared the bar with a season-best mark of 5’ 9.25” (1.76m) at the CAA Outdoor Championships, finishing second overall.

Novotna qualified for the NCAA East Regional meet for the first time after narrowly missing qualifying for the preliminary round last year. The Hradec Kralove, Czech Republic, native set a new personal and school-record in the 3,000-meter steeplechase with a time of 10:22.22 at the CAA Championships. It was also Novotna’s second conference title in the event.

Johansen will continue her exceptional track and field campaign at her first-ever NCAA Preliminary meet. The Chelmsford, England, native set a school and CAA-meet record in the 1,500-meters with a time of 4:22.82 at the league championships. She also won the 800-meters at the meet after clocking a school-record 2:10.42 and earned the CAA Most Outstanding Track Athlete of the Meet.

Athletes placing in the top 12 of each event at the regional meet advances to the NCAA Championships, scheduled for June 10-13, in Eugene, Ore.