JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Five members of the Elon University women’s track and field team begins competition this week at the NCAA East Preliminaries in Jacksonville, Fla., The three-day meet opens on May 28, at Hodges Stadium at the University of North Florida.
Elon tied a program-best with five athletes qualifying for the NCAA East Prelims and had the most individual entries out of any team from the Colonial Athletic Association. Three members of the team – Jen Esposito (400-meter hurdles), Sydney Griffin (100-meter hurdles) and Megan Kirschling (high jump) – return for their second straight trip to the NCAA preliminary round. Distance harriers Kimberly Johansen (1,500-meters) and Tereza Novotna (3,000-meter steeplechase) are making their first-ever trip at the regional meet.
Esposito enters the meet as the No. 13 seed in the 400-meter hurdles, the highest seed of the Phoenix athletes. The Mansfield, Mass., native and CAA Outdoor Champion in the event, clocked a personal and school-record time of 57.75 at the Duke Twilight on May 6. Last year, Esposito finished 33rd overall in the race at the NCAAs.
Griffin will also look to better her time of a year ago at the preliminary round in the 100-meter hurdles. The Marietta, Ga., native qualified for the meet after she ran a new personal and school-record time of 13.53 at the Aggie Last Chance Meet at North Carolina A&T on May 17. She earned All-CAA accolades with a runner-up finish at the league championships.
Kirschling is 32nd in the standings in the high jump in the East Region with her cleared height mark of 5’ 9.75” (1.76m). Last year, Kirschling qualified for the preliminary meet after setting a new school and Southern Conference record of 5’ 10.5” (1.79m) in the high jump. Kirschling also was the runner-up in the high jump at the CAA Outdoor Championships, receiving All-CAA honors.
After narrowly missing on qualifying for the regional meet last season, Novotna solidified her position in the 3,000-meter steeplechase this year. The Hradec Kralove, Czech Republic, native clocked in a time of 10.22.22 in the race at the CAA Championships, capturing her second straight conference title in the event.
Johansen advances to the NCAA East Prelims after a record-breaking regular-season track and field campaign. The Chelmsford, England, won the 1,500-meters at the CAA Championships with a league-record time of 4:22.82. She also won the 800-meters with a school-record time of 2:10.42 and was named the CAA Most Outstanding Track Athlete of the Meet.
Action begins for the Phoenix on Thursday, May 28, with Griffin in the first round of the 400-meter hurdles at 4:30 p.m. followed by Johansen in the 1,500-meters.
With a top-12 finish in their respective events this weekend, each individual advance to the NCAA Outdoor Championships in Eugene, Ore., on June 10-13.