Three University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff athletes have qualified for the NCAA West First Round Championships at Texas A&M University's Cushing Stadium.
The meet is one of two regional preliminaries to the NCAA Outdoor Track and Field finals and will be Wednesday through Saturday. The East First Round Championships will be in Jacksonville, Fla.
Safiya John, a junior from Trinidad and Tobago, qualified for the West regional in the 100-meter hurdles at the May 9 Southwestern Athletic Conference meet at Prairie View A&M with a time of 12.76 seconds. She will race at 6 p.m. Friday.
The hurdles win was part of a busy meet for John, who won her second straight heptathlon title and came within one point of the high-point award. The heptathlon is not contested at NCAA regionals, and only the top 24 athletes on the national qualifying list advance straight to the national championships, which are June 9-12 in Eugene, Ore. Despite breaking her own conference record with 5,450 points, John ranked 37th.
Senior Wade Garner will compete in the 400-meter dash at 7:25 p.m. Wednesday. Garner won the SWAC title with a 46.77-second run.
And junior Katrina Small will participate in the triple jump at 3:15 p.m. Saturday after jumping 12.76 meters to win the SWAC.
"My athletes can compete with anybody and beat [anyone] in the country simply because of how competitive they are and the drive they have", said UAPB Coach Christopher McCoy, who is expecting personal bests from all three.