BY Sheldon mickles
May 27, 2012
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — The Louisiana Tech women’s track and field team added two more qualifiers, while the University of Louisiana at Lafayette picked up its first two qualifiers for the national semifinals Saturday on the final day of the NCAA East Preliminary Rounds.
Tech’s Chelsea Hayes, who qualified for the NCAA Championships in the long jump on Thursday and 100 meters on Friday, earned her third berth in the NCAA Championships to be held June 6-9 when she ran the second leg on the 4x100-meter relay team that automatically advanced Saturday.
Kimberly Smith, Hayes, Stacia Hanneman and Victoria Wade combined for a school-record time of 44.11 seconds in finishing second to LSU, whose time of 43.26 seconds was the fastest of the quarterfinals.
Louisiana Tech’s time was third overall behind LSU and Ohio State (43.98) among the 12 schools that won berths in the national semifinals.
Tech’s time might have been better if not for a poor second exchange between Hayes and Hanneman.
“Chelsea ran up on me quickly — faster than normal — and it was hard for her to get the stick in my hand,” Hanneman said. “We didn’t panic, and I was determined to get the stick in my hand in the exchange zone and get it around the track. It was a good thing we didn’t panic.”
Because of the near-mishap, Hayes said she didn’t realize they had set a school record.
“That took away from our time,” she said. “I wasn’t sure what the time was … I really didn’t care. We finished second in our heat and advanced (automatically) and that is all that matters.”
Later, Tech’s Kim Francis joined them at nationals when she earned the 12th and final spot in the 100-meter hurdles with a time of 13.40 seconds.
Meanwhile, UL-Lafayette had two qualifiers as Jasmine Manuel finished sixth in the women’s triple jump and Albert Fournette took sixth in the men’s shot put.
Manuel, who finished fourth in the triple jump at the NCAA indoor meet in March, gained another spot at nationals with a mark of 43 feet, 7 inches. Fournette also comfortably made it to nationals with a best of 62-71/4.
Three other athletes from state schools other than LSU made it to nationals.
Southeastern Louisiana’s Kovey Simmons finished in a tie for fourth in the pole vault with a clearance of 17-51/2 and Grambling’s Akeem Williams made it in the 200 with a time of 20.68 seconds.
Also, McNeese State distance runner David Rooney automatically qualified for nationals when he finished third in his heat of the 5,000 meters in 14 minutes, 17.69 seconds.
McNeese’s Mariah Georgetown, a Baton Rouge native, didn’t advance in the 100 hurdles as she finished sixth in her heat in 13.50 seconds and was 18th overall.