Lawrence, Kansas – Florence Uwakwe and Jonah Koech punched their ticket to the NCAA Championships in Eugene, Ore., on Friday afternoon.
“It was very fitting for Florence and how she earned her bid,” Laaksonen said. “Two years ago as a freshman, she was the first one out and this year she is the last one in. It’s great to have her make it to the NCAA’s as an individual.”
Uwakwe was faced with the tough task of running the first heat of six in the 400m dash, but that did not stop her from qualifying for the NCAA Championships.
The Nigeria native clocked a time of 54.11 to take second in her heat. With the new qualifying format due to yesterday’s weather (winner of heat plus next six fastest times advance), Uwakwe’s mark was right on the cutline entering the sixth and final heat. Uwakwe’s time stood up as the last qualifying time by .08 seconds (Kristyn Williams/Stanford/54.19).
This will be Uwakwe’s second appearance at the NCAA Championships during her career at UTEP. In 2014, she was a member of the women’s 4x100m relay team that made it to Oregon. Uwakwe’s weekend is not finished just yet, she will be the anchor leg in the women’s 4x100m relay team tomorrowin hopes of advancing. Uwakwe will be the first Miner since Endurance Abinuwa (2009) to run in the open 400m dash at the NCAA Championships.
“What Jonah did was very impressive this afternoon,” Laaksonen noted. “He was in the sixth and final heat and he knew what he needed to do to advance, and he did just that. His kick in the last 200 meters was phenomenal and I can’t wait to see him in action in two weeks.”
Two-time All American Koech won his heat with a time of 1:49.89 on his way to securing a bid to the NCAA Championships; this will be his
third NCAA Championships he has competed in this year (cross country, indoors and now outdoors). He will be the first Miner since Dominic Tanui (2009) to compete at the NCAA Championships in the 800m run.
Tobi Amusan (100m hurdles), Bria Love (100m hurdles), Sven Zellner (110m hurdles) and Asa Guevara (200m dash) will look to advance to the NCAA Championships tomorrow. The women’s 4x100m relay squad of Tyler Ragin, Amusan, Alexis Roberts and Uwakwe will try and advance as well.