Competing in the final day of the NCAA East Preliminaries, the No. 14 UCF track and field team secured four more entries to the NCAA Outdoor Championships in June.
Senior Jackie Coward clinched her spot at the NCAA Outdoor Championships in the 100 hurdles for the third-consecutive year by winning her heat and clocking the second-fastest qualifying time overall of 12.96 (+1.3). The performance ranks as her best wind-legal time of the year and ranks among the top 10 in the NCAA.
Senior Karessa Farley narrowly missed the cut to advance to the 100-hurdles semifinals by .004. While also running in heat two, Farley’s time of 13.395 was edged by Louisiana Tech’s Kim Francis, who crossed the finish line at 13.391 to secure the 12th and final spot in the field.
A day after qualifying for the semifinals of the 100 meters, Aurieyall Scott, Sheila Paul and Octavious Freeman also qualified to advance in the 200 meters. Scott pulled away in the final heat to secure her berth with a season-best time of 22.90 as the Knights’ top finisher with the fourth-fastest time of the day and a top-20 time in the NCAA. Freeman came in third in her heat and seventh overall with a time of 23.08 to also automatically qualify for the championships. Paul rounded out the trio with a personal-best 23.25 to finish fourth in the first heat and 10th overall.
Senior Tomika Story finished her career on a high note with a personal-best performance in the triple jump. She fouled on her first two attempts but refused to be rattled. On her third jump, she hit 12.54m/41-1.75 (+1.8) to emerge as UCF’s highest finisher in the event at 21st place.
Senior Jacquelyn Gilchrist, who qualified for the NCAA Championships in the long jump, posted her second-best triple jump performance of the season with a mark of 12.44m/40-9.75 (+1.8) for 28th place.
Although the 4×100 relay posted the third-fastest qualifying time of the day, UCF was disqualified from the event when Freeman and Scott failed to hand off the baton within the zone. After the pair struggled with their handoff between the second and third leg, anchor Sheila Paul recovered for the squad as she nearly caught up with leader Ohio State. The Knights finished second in their heat by .05 with a time of 44.03 but unfortunately will not advance to the national semifinals in Des Moines.
Throughout the three-day meet, the team produced six marks that either ranked first or second overall in each round of its respective events.
UCF will send a total of six athletes to the NCAA Outdoor Championships in Des Moines, Iowa, June 6-9. The Knights look to improve upon their eighth-place finish at the Indoor Championships, which marked the program’s top placing in school history.