The 2016 NCAA Division I Outdoor Track and Field Championships will get underway on Wednesday and the Cincinnati Bearcats are invited. Well, at least some of them are. In total, six Bearcat athletes will compete in Eugene, Oregon, including a program record five women.
In total, the women's track and field team earned the No. 40 spot in the final rankings from the USTFCCCA, while the men's squad finished at No. 95. The women's team also won the American Athletic Conference outdoor championship back in mid-May, setting them up for the NCAA East preliminary rounds held May 26-28.
Leading the charge for UC is Kenya Woodall, who will be appearing in the outdoor championships for the second time. Although she finished just 17th in the 400-meter dash a year ago, she holds the school record (51.78 seconds) in the event. She will compete in the 400 again this year, but also holds program records in the 100 meters (11.53 seconds) and 200 meters (23.09). In addition, Woodall earned entrance into the 2016 U.S. Olympic team trials with a winning 52.12-second finish in the Tiger Track Classic in Auburn on April 9. An all-conference selection in both the 200 and 400 meters, Wodall came in third in the AAC championships in the 400, finishing in 52.57 seconds.
The rest of the UC representatives in the NCAA championships participate in the field portion of the track and field combination. Annette Echikunwoke will be competing in hammer throw, Loretta Blaut and Erika Hurd will take part as high jumpers while Alyssa McBride and Adrian Valles will participate in the pole vault.
Valles placed fifth in last year's outdoor championships during his stellar freshman campaign. His season-best clearance was 5.45 meters, which he registered during the AAC championships to grab his second-straight outdoor conference title and fourth overall including indoor competition.
Echikunwoke won the indoor and outdoor title in the hammer throw for the AAC in 2016 and is making her NCAA championship debut. Her season-best throw was 61.40 meters and is a school record. Interestingly enough, she is the first Bearcat to compete in a throwing event at the NCAAs since Emelie Larsson threw javelin in 2012.
Blaut competed in last year's NCAA championships while Hurd is making her debut. Each has cleared a season-best of 1.81 meters, which helped them tie for first at the Kentucky Relays in early May.
McBride has never competed in the NCAAs but she finished second in the AAC outdoors and third in the indoors.
Below is a schedule for events in which UC athletes will compete. A portion of the full schedule events will be televised on ESPN2 (Wednesday) and ESPN (Thursday through Saturday).
Wednesday June 8
5:00 p.m. Men's pole vault final (Valles)
Thursday June 9
2:00 p.m. Women's hammer throw final (Echikunwoke)
5:00 p.m. Women's pole vault final (McBride)
6:00 p.m. Women's 400 meter semifinals (Woodall)
Saturday June 11
3:00 p.m. Women's high jump final (Blaut and Hurd)
4:32 p.m. Women's 400 meter final (Woodall)