The NCAA West Preliminary runs Thursday through Saturday at Rock Chalk Park in Lawrence. The event will include track and field athletes from the 121 Division I schools west of the Mississippi River who rank top 48 in their respective events. The top 12 athletes and relays advance to the NCAA Championships on June 8-11 in Eugene, Ore.
Here are five things to watch for:
1. A massive haul
Wichita State has 25 entries in the meet, a record for the program. Jared Belardo is the top men’s hopeful. The freshman is competing in the triple jump and the long jump. His triple qualifying mark of 52 feet, 6 1/2 inches is sixth-best in the field. Carlea Holt has the 15th-best mark (WSU-record 164-11) in the javelin.
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2. Top leaper
Kansas State’s Kim Williamson won her second straight Big 12 high jump title two weeks ago with a region-best leap of 6 feet, 1 1/2 inches. After finishing second in the nation last year, Williamson will look to earn her spot in the NCAA Championships once again at 5 p.m. Friday.
3. KU star
Kansas’ Mitch Cooper will be continuing his pursuit of a national championship in the discus at 4 p.m. Friday after winning a Big 12 title in his last meet. The Australian’s seed mark of 205 feet, 3 inches is best in the region.
4. Pole position
After a 1-2 finish at the Big 12 meet two weeks ago, KU’s Jake Albright and Nick Meyer will look to advance to the NCAAs after posting top-five marks in the region. Missouri’s Matthew Ludwig is right behind with a sixth-place seed mark for the 4:30 event Thursday.
5. Hammer time
WSU’s Weston Cottrell, a senior, has the eighth-best mark in the men’s hammer throw. He threw 213-10 and holds the Shocker record (215-3), set last season.