ABILENE – In the final regular season track meet of the season, Nikki McNorton topped the NCAA automatic qualifying mark to guarantee at least two Tarleton athletes will compete at the national championships in Pueblo, Colo. May 24-26.
McNorton, now the second-ranked high jumper in the nation, leaped 5 feet, 10.75 inches (1.80m) at the Oliver Jackson Twilight meet at Abilene Christian Wednesday to earn her trip to the nationals, joining Jeff Smith who automatically qualified in the 400 meter hurdles last weekend.
The senior from Channelview has reached the NCAA provisional qualifying mark of 5-6 (1.68m) in every meet this season, including her season-best jump of 5-9 (1.75m) to win the Lone Star Conference high jump championship last weekend.
Senior Leslie Jordan was the only other Tarleton athlete to reach an NCAA mark, with a shot put throw of 45-1 (13.82m) for her second provisional qualification of the season. The throw was easily Jordan’s best of the season, topping her previous best of 44-6 (13.56m) at the Cactus Cup earlier this season.
Tarleton had seven other athletes on hand trying to improve or qualify their standings in the NCAA championships.
Jamal Mays and Hayden Eubanks have already reached the provisional qualifying marks in the 100 and discus, respectively, but were looking to improve their personal standings.
Mays, the 22nd ranked 100 runner in the nation, ran a 10.86 in the preliminaries to qualify for the finals with a third place finish. In the finals, Mays ran a 10.85 to claim fourth place but failed to improve on his NCAA time of 10.54 set last weekend.
Eubanks, the 17th ranked discus thrower in the nation, completed a throw of 160-8 (48.96m) for his second-best throw of the season, trailing his 169-10 NCAA provisional throw set at Texas Tech.
Phillip Hayes and Jeff Smith ran the 200 with hopes of qualifying on the final day.
Hayes finished eighth in the preliminaries with a time of 22.11 before going on to run his best time of the season (21.83) for a third place finish in the finals. However, the 21.83 did not meet the NCAA mark of 21.45.
Smith finished 19th in the preliminaries with a time of 22.61.
Brian Cooper was the third Texan runner who was trying to earn a spot in the NCAA ranks in his final run of the season. He finished eighth in the 800 in 1:59.08, missing the 1:52.55 provisional mark.
Also running for the final time with a chance to reach the championships were Lindsey Hinton and Payton Shoush.
Hinton has set three school records this season in pursuit of the NCAA qualifying times while Shoush just missed hitting the mark in her last race.
Hinton ran the 1500 in a time of 4:46.95 for a first-place finish Wednesday, but missed the mark.
Shoush, coming off a third-place finish in the 800 at the LSC championship, claimed second place at ACU with a time of 2:16.13. The time was 2.13 seconds off the NCAA mark.
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