Gophers Travel to Texas for NCAA West Preliminary Round

Go Gophers!
Chimerem Okoroji is a veteran of NCAA competition.

Go Gophers!
Chimerem Okoroji is a veteran of NCAA competition.
Go Gophers!

May 22, 2012

NCAA West Preliminary Round
Date Thursday, May 24-Saturday, May 26, 2012
Time All Day
Location Mike A. Myers Stadium (Austin, Texas)
Schedule Full Schedule
Heat Sheets Click Here
Live Video Click Here
Live Results Click Here
Statistics 2012 Performance List | Top 10 List

Preliminary Round Logistics
From each regional meet (West and East), the top 12 finishers in each event (include relays) will advance to NCAA finals in Des Moines, Iowa (June 6-9). These finalists will come from a field of 48 competitors in each individual event (except the heptathlon) and 24 teams in each relay.

Coverage of the Meet
Video will be available through the CBS Sports online network at the link in the preview table. Flotrack.org will also provide coverage of both the West and East preliminary meets.

Golden Gopher Qualifiers
Emily Betz - javelin
Alena Brooks - 400m, 4x400m relay
Sharyn Dahl - 400m hurdles
Christina DeLakis - shot put
Laura Docherty - 5,000m
Rachel Drake - 10,000m
Megan Geyen - 4x400m relay
Nyoka Giles - 200m, 4x100m relay, 4x400m
DeAnne Hahn - hammer throw
Molly Kayfes - 3,000m steeplechase
Katie Moraczewski - 3,000m steeplechase
Chimerem Okoroji - 100m, 4x100m
Paige Orcutt - 3,000m steeplechase
Kylie Peterson - 4x100m relay
Kelly Stalpes - 400m hurdles, 4x400m relay
Todea-Kay Willis - long jump, 4x100m relay

Fresh Faces
Ten of the 16 Gopher qualifiers have experienced NCAA competition before, and the other six will make their debuts this week. Those six are DeLakis, Docherty, Drake, Geyen, Kayfes, and Orcutt.

Triple Threat
Katie Moraczewski qualified for NCAA prelims in the 3,000-meter steeplechase last year, but this year she is joined by two more teammates in the event. Molly Kayfes and Paige Orcutt will also compete in Austin. The last time Minnesota had three or more representatives in the same event at NCAAs was 2010 when four women (Gabriele Anderson, Kathryn Ritter, Nikki Swenson, and Elizabeth Yetzer) ran the 1,500m. Read GopherSports.com’s interview with the steeplechase corps here.

Minnesota History at the Prelims
The Gophers sent a school-record 24 student-athletes to NCAA prelims in 2010. They have had 16 qualify each of the past two years, not including alternates. Minnesota traveled 23 athletes to the Midwest Regional in both 2008 and 2009.

NCAAs Last Year
In 2011, Minnesota advanced three individuals and one relay from the NCAA Preliminary Round to the NCAA Championships. Todea-Kay Willis, Nyoka Giles, Chimerem Okoroji, and Alena Brooks finished 21st in the 4x100-meter relay. (The relay returns to prelims this season with Kylie Peterson as anchor.) Willis also advanced to the championship round in long jump, finishing 16th. Non-returning Gophers who advanced: Nikki Tzanakis (14th in discus) and Nikki Swenson (16th in the 1,500m).

Last Time Out: Big Ten Championships
Minnesota finished ninth at the Big Ten Championships two weeks ago in Madison, Wis. Todea-Kay Willis made the All-Big Ten Second Team by taking runner-up honors in the long jump with a leap of 20 feet, three inches (6.17m). Christina DeLakis finished third in shot put with the fourth-best throw in school history (16.00m). The 4x100-meter relay team finished third after setting the school record in the preliminary round.

Re-Writing the Record Books
Minnesota broke one school record and added numerous top-10 performances this spring. The 4x100 team (Willis, Giles, Okoroji, & Peterson) turned in a time of 44.50 seconds in Big Ten prelims to top the mark set by Shannaine Osbourne, Shani Marks, Amber Day, & Tahesia Harrigan in 2008. Entering the NCAA preliminary round, Golden Gophers have recorded 20 new top-10 performances this season.

Breakout Year for Docherty
Laura Docherty has had a strong showing in 2012. She ranks fifth all-time at Minnesota in the 10,000m (34:07.40), she scored in both the 5K and 10K at the Big Ten Championships, and she showed her range with a strong anchor leg of the Gophers’ second-place 4x1,600m relay at the Drake Relays.

4-for-5 for Willis
Prior to a second-place finish at the Big Ten Championships, Todea-Kay Willis won the long jump every time she attempted it this spring. Her titles came at the Arkansas Invitational, Steve Scott Invitational, Aztec Invitational, and Tommie Twilight. Willis holds the school record of 21-1 1/2 (6.44m) in the event, set in 2011.

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