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ROLLING SEVENS: Track Qualifies 7 for Eugene, 7 More for QF Round

May 31, 2014

By Jerry Hill
Baylor Bear Insider

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. - Instead of John McDonnell Field, maybe the Baylor Bears should have been at Harrah's in Las Vegas, Nev., because everything was coming up sevens.

In what head coach Todd Harbour called a "good day at the office," Baylor had seven athletes punch their tickets for the NCAA Championships in Eugene, Ore., and another seven that made it to the quarterfinal round in Friday's action at the NCAA West Preliminary Rounds.

"It was a very good day, very solid," Harbour said. "A lot of them advanced to (Saturday) that we had hoped to, and had some others that got their tickets for Eugene. We had maybe one that wasn't really a surprise, but she wasn't seeded in the top 12 coming in. So, to see Raena (Rhone) pull one off and run a PR out of Lane 9, that was very nice. That was an added bonus."

Rhone, a junior captain, took third in her heat and qualified with the fifth-fastest time overall in a career-best 52.57. She had run 52.67 in placing fourth at the Big 12 Championships and entered the West preliminary rounds with the 15th-best time.

"She's out in Lane 9, where you can't see anybody," Harbour said. "And you just have to stay within yourself and do a good job; and she did a great job. She ran the turn hard and brought it home and ended up getting that third spot. It was really neat to see that for her. I'm very excited for Raena."

Baylor was a perfect 3-for-3 in the 100-meter dash, with freshman Trayvon Bromell and senior Everett Walker both advancing with 10.18-second times on the men's side and senior Tiffani McReynolds finishing fifth in her heat and qualifying with the 11th-fastest time overall in 11.53. She edged out USC's Loudia Laarman by eight-thousandths of a second for the last non-automatic spot.

"Trayvon didn't get a great start in the 100, but the kid that he was running with (Texas freshman Senoj-Jay Givans), those kids are going to battle for the next couple years," Harbour said. "He ran well, just didn't get as good of a start, so it wasn't that perfect race for Trayvon. But like I told him, all that matters is getting to Eugene. Nobody will remember who won down here two weeks from now."

Walker and McReynolds will both try to double up in Saturday's quarterfinals. While Walker advanced in the 200 meters with the third-fastest qualifying time of 20.57, McReynolds won her heat easily and posted the second-fastest qualifying time in the 100-meter hurdles at 13.10.

"We've been saying for the last couple of weeks, you better keep an eye on Tiny," Harbour said of Walker, "because he's coming. Not having an indoor season, the more races he gets, the better he's going to be. And I think we're seeing that again this weekend. He's just coming to a different level right now."

Harbour said the women's 100 meters and 100-meter hurdles are spread out enough at nationals that McReynolds will be able to run in both.

"Basically, once you declare here and make it through, you have to do it," he said. "I think the 100 is definitely helping her hurdles speed, and it's maybe giving her a little bit of a mental break. It can be a tough thing when you put everything into one event."

Sophomore Taije Jordan will join McReynolds in the 100 hurdles quarterfinals after finishing third in her heat and 21st overall in 13.81, with sophomore Bryce Grace finishing second in his heat and 11th overall in the men's 110 hurdles with a time of 13.92.

Blake Heriot (21.01) also made it through in the men's 200-meter prelims, while Ashley Fields (23.50) and Kehri Jones (23.92) both advanced to the women's quarterfinals.

Following in the footsteps of former Heisman Trophy winner Robert Griffin III, TJ Holmes became Baylor's first freshman to advance to the NCAA Championships in the 400-meter hurdles since 2008. He ran a personal-best time of 49.90 to win his heat and finish fifth overall in advancing to Eugene.

"TJ won his heat convincingly and looked really good doing it," Harbour said. "Who knows what he would have done if he had been in one of those other heats. But to get there as a freshman, that's pretty amazing. Since RG3 pulled it off, you know he's following in some pretty good footsteps."

Also punching their tickets to Eugene were juniors Rachel Johnson and Brianna Richardson in the 3,000-meter steeplechase and triple jump, respectively.

Richardson's best of 42-8 came on her first attempt, which was good enough for fifth overall. A year ago, she was one spot out of qualifying at 13th.

"The girl that beat her at conference from Oklahoma State (Viktoria Sadokhina) didn't make it through, so it shows you that you have to be on," Harbour said. "Ours' made it look easy today, and it's not that easy. You've just got to be a little bit off and miss the board and not get a jump in. Next thing you know, you start pressing a little bit. But, Brianna made it look easy."

Johnson closed out the night the same way, looking comfortable in running a meet-record time of 9:53.56 to post the fastest time in a field of runners that included 2012 national champion Shalaya Kipp of Colorado (10:03.87).

"We just wanted her to try to run something easy and controlled and not overdo it," Harbour said. "She's got to run two (rounds of the steeple) in Eugene, so we'll have to run a little more conservative up there. But she looked really good."

One of the only disappointments of the day was not getting half-miler Olicia Williams back to nationals. She finished seventh in her heat and 15th overall in 2:07.58.

Saturday's action begins with Erin Atkinson in the women's hammer throw at 10 a.m. and Desmine Hilliard in the men's discus at 3 p.m. Running events kick off with the men's 4x100-meter relay at 6 p.m.

Live video streaming and results are available at www.arkansasrazorbacks.com.

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