NCAA East Region Track & Field Championships Preview|
May 25, 2011
By Tiffany George
The NCAA East Region Preliminary Championships are this weekend at Indiana University and it marks a record-setting qualification for the University of Cincinnati track and field teams.
Sending five athletes, the men's team is led by juniors and BIG EAST champions Terence Somerville and Eric Finan. Somerville, the BIG EAST Most Outstanding Track Performer, is ranked second in the nation and 15th in the world in the 110 meter hurdles. Finan is currently ranked 9th in the 5,000 meters for this weekend.
This weekend's preliminary meet is so much more than just a track meet, according to men's head coach Bill Schnier.
"It's a meet of qualification and advancement," Schnier said. "We're looking to advance to the national finals."
Only the top-12 competitors out of the 48 participating in each event will advance to the finals in Des Moines, Iowa. With both Finan and Somerville coming in ranked within the top-12, Schnier is very confident that they both can, and will, advance.
"Every meet you go to, you have a purpose," Schnier said. "You have something you want to get out of it."
Although Schnier has high hopes for his team and his dream would be to have all the athletes qualify for nationals, he also knows that anything can happen and just hopes each of them can better themselves in this preliminary round.
"We want them to set a personal record," he said. "To rise to the level of the competition. Most of the time we're in meets where everyone is like us, maybe a little better or a little worse, but here everyone is really good, the best. Are we going to rise to that level, or fade away?"
With all five athletes that are heading to the national preliminaries returning next year, the men's track and field team hopes to further their success and build off the season.
"In every sport, the championship is the end," said Schnier. "You get your greatest recognition when you're the best at the end, and that's what we're looking for."
The women's team is already setting school records and they haven't competed in a single event in the meet.
Sending a school-record 14 athletes to the national preliminary meet this year, the women's team is excited to see what happens in the coming days.
"I told the team that we're mainly expecting them to challenge their personal records, which in many cases are school records," women's head coach Susan Seaton said. "We think that if they can do that, they will place for the final round."
The BIG EAST Champion 4x400 meter relay team will highlight the women's campaign, joined by the members of the 4x100 meter relay team as well as several individual athletes.
"We have a number of women seeded in the top-30 in their field and I think they have a good shot at qualifying," Seaton said. "Mackenzie Fields is currently sitting at ninth and should advance, as well as our relays."
Anything can happen in track and field and the most Seaton can hope for is that all the Cincinnati athletes turn in their best efforts and push to reach their goals of qualifying for the national finals.
"We fully believe we will have some people representing us in the national final, and that's exciting to us because it's very difficult to do," she says. "You have to be one of the top-24 athletes in the country to do that, and it's exciting to have a group of people that can make that."
Sending numerous school record holders and first-time national meet athletes to the preliminary meet this weekend, Seaton is proud of the team's accomplishments for this year, and expects the next two meets to follow suit with how the rest of the season has gone.
"We feel like this has been the best year in women's track and field history," Seaton said. "We've broken nine school records so far and finished the highest we've ever finished in indoor and outdoor track (at the BIG EAST Championships). This is a huge step up for our program."
Coming off of a record-setting season this year, Seaton is excited for the future of the program to build off of this year's success. With numerous top point-scorers returning and a solid freshman class coming in, Seaton thinks next year will be even more successful for the women's track and field team.
"There's a lot of excitement in the program for the future," said Seaton. "I think this will be the springboard to even greater things to come."
Complete List Of NCAA East Region Preliminary Championships