The Coastal Carolina track and field programs will be well represented at the NCAA East Preliminary Round this week as the Chanticleers will try to parlay all the work leading up to this point into spots in the NCAA championships next month.
The East Preliminary Round, one of two regionals nationally, will be contested Thursday-Saturday at the University of North Florida in Jacksonville, Fla., with the top 12 finishers in each event advancing to the NCAA Outdoor Championships June 9-11 in Eugene, Ore.
The Chants’ men’s team qualified six individuals and a relay team while the women’s program qualified two individuals for the regional meet.
“I am pleased that we have representatives from every area of our team. I think that speaks really well to the quality of our team across the board – that we’ve got people in the sprints, the jumps, the hurdles, a distance runner, a relay team, throwers,” Chants coach Jeff Jacobs said. “We had a couple more that we’re real close and just missed out, but it’s not an easy meet to qualify for. But this is a great representative group.”
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There are 48 individuals and 24 relays competing for those coveted top-12 spots in each event.
Senior Desmond Wallace will be in the spotlight for the men as he makes his second appearance at the preliminary round and competes in the 110-meter hurdles, an event in which he ranks ninth in the East. He’s a two-time Big South champion and holds the Coastal Carolina record in that event, setting the mark at 13.68 seconds this season.
“I’m looking at a very, very good meet and great competition and a place for me to go and show what I’ve been working on,” Wallace said. “… The finals in Eugene, that’s my goal. That’s what I’ve been working for all year, these whole four years. As long as I keep running the same way I’ve been running all year, I’ve already ran over what it took last year. It took 13.84 to make it last year. I’ve ran faster than that four or five times this year. As long as I keep doing what I’ve been doing, I’ll be there.”
Said Jacobs: “He’s definitely capable of that. He’s been running in the 13.6’s now so that’s the kind of time that can make the final on the day. It’s very competitive, but we’ve really got to take it round by round. He has three more races to get to the finals in Eugene, so he has to keep executing each round and that’s what we’ll emphasize with all of our athletes.”
Also for the men, junior Kevondre’ Hunt will compete in the 110-meter hurdles after finishing second in the conference meet behind his teammate; sophomore Jerome Coaxum Jr. will compete in the 400-meter hurdles after setting a program record time of 51.94 seconds; sophomore Robert Castellani will compete in the javelin; freshman Devontaye Edwards, another program record-holder, will compete in the discus; and the 4x100 relay team of sophomore Therius Styles, freshman Ryan McCain, sophomore Kahlim Denmark and freshman Chiason Tenkiang will represent the Chants as well.
On the women’s side, sophomore Aynslee van Graan will compete in the 1,500 meters as the Chants’ program record-holder in that event, and senior Amirah Al-Bayyinah will compete in the triple jump.
“Aynslee van Graan, I feel, is going to be very competitive in the 1,500. The field’s very wide open for the eighth through 12th spots,” Jacobs said. “She’s [seeded 28th], she’s right in the middle of it, but you’ve only got to improve by a couple of seconds. I think she’s running really well right now.”