June 1, 2005
The NCAA Division I National Championship field is set as announced earlier today. The Gauchos will be sending five to Sacramento, CA, the second largest contingent from the Big West in 2005 after Ben Armel (Sr.) was added as a small surprise. Armel will join Lauren Christman (Jr.), Tetlo Emmen (Jr.), Amy Haapanen (Jr.) and Cosette Smith (Sr.).
To qualify, athletes had to perform at the NCAA Regional Championships and finish in the top eight in order to advance. However, an athlete could also advance if somebody dropped an event (if qualified for the Championships in more than one) therefore bumping 9th into 8th for however many people dropped in a certain event. A little confusing? Here is the Road to Sacramento:
1. Qualify for the Regional National Championships except for the 10,000m, decathlon and heptathlon events, which have, direct qualification standards to Nationals due to the grueling nature of the event. You can qualify to Regionals two ways.
a. First, you hit a mark that is based on the top 100 collegiate times or distances of the prior year. For example, in the Men's 400m dash, the time to hit was 47.29 seconds.
b. Second, you become Conference Champion in your event.
2. At one of four Regional championship meets (West, Midwest, Mideast & East) you finish in the top five garnering an automatic qualifying position to nationals. You may also qualify by finishing in 6th, 7th or 8th position in that event placing you in an "at-large" pool with the 6th-8th place finishers from the other regions. A committee than fills up each event for nationals with approximately 26-29 athletes until a maximum field is reached at 544 men, 544 women.
3. The confusing part: if an athlete scratches from an event, it bumps everybody below them up a spot. So, a 6th becomes an automatic qualifying 5th and a 9th becomes a 8th. For example, in the Men's 800m, Emmen finished 6th but since Jon Rankin of UCLA scratched out of it to focus on the 1500m, Emmen became 5th and Armel who had not qualified for finals but was the last not to go in the ninth position was bumped to eighth and within the at-large pool had a time fast enough to advance to the National Championships.
So, with all that said the Gauchos take five. In the Women's 5,000m Christman and Smith finished 3rd and 4th to grab auto spots. Megan Lewis (So.) who finished 6th running a great race unfortunately does not advance since other women from the at-large pool across the nation including those finishing behind her at the West Regionals had faster early season times.
Christman and Smith will compete in the 5k prelims on Wednesday, June 8th night attempting to qualify for Friday's finals going in ranked 17th and 20th respectively. In all events the top eight Americans will become NCAA All-Americans. In 2003 Katie Appenrodt became All-American at 5,000m.
The other woman advancing is UCSB and Big West Record Holder Amy Haapanen in the Hammer Throw. Coming on late this year, Amy threw over 190 feet for the first time at the Conference Championships to come away with the title. At the West Regions she again went big going for 193 feet to finish in 7th and getting an at-large berth. She enters the National Championship meet ranked 20th and is due to compete on Thursday, June 9th.
On the men's side, Ben Armel (Sr.) and Tetlo Emmen (Jr.) both advance to the National Championships in the 800m for the second year in a row. As stated above, Emmen was bumped into an automatic qualifying 5th spot after Rankin dropped the event, while Armel who had not qualified for finals as the first one not to, got bumped to the 8th position. They both enter the meet ranked 18th and 20th and will step onto the track for the first of three rounds of the 800m on June 8th.
Those on the bubble for the Gauchos that did not qualify for Nationals, include Eugene Bradley (Jr.) in the Hammer and Gabe Mann (Jr.) in the Javelin. Bradley went into the West Regional meet ranked 11th with a 200-01 foot personal best reached at Big West when it counted. Again, at Regionals, when everything was on the line he tossed another personal best going 201 feet jolting him to fifth with two rounds remaining. Unfortunately his position would not hold with another athlete throwing farther in the fifth round of six. Bradley finished 6th and although not far enough to take him to Nationals he finished ahead of some that will be and showed he is one to be reckoned with on game day.
Mann, in the same situation went out and wooed a Hayward Field crowd in the first flight of the Javelin. Going in ranked 20th, he had only been training for the event for seven months as a transfer from Baseball. Mann launched a three and a half foot personal best at 210 feet even placing him seventh overall and in the at-large pool for Nationals. Although one athlete dropped for the decathlon it still only placed him 27th in an event where they only took 26. But, again like Bradley, he can go to bed at night knowing what he can do on meet day.
The NCAA Division I National Track & Field Championships begin on Wednesday, June 8th and run through Saturday, June 11th at Sacramento St., site of the 2004 USA Olympic Trials.