Erika Kemp, a North Carolina State senior from Rancocas Valley, advanced to the NCAA Championships by easily winning the 5,000-meter run at the NCAA East Preliminary meet in Tampa on Saturday.
Kemp ran 16:06.17, finishing 30 meters ahead of Georgia sophomore Jessica Drop, who was second in 16:12.58. She led for about the final five laps, or the final 2,000 meters.
The top five finishers from each of two heats along with the next two-fastest times from each of two regions advanced to the NCAA Championships next month in Eugene, Ore.
Kemp has a lifetime-best of 15:43.28 last month at the Mt. SAC Relays, but certainly an unpressed 16:06 in a race that isn’t designed for fast times is very encouraging.
This will be Kemp’s third trip to outdoor NCAAs. Her best previous finish was 13th in the 5,000 in 15:59.26 last spring at Eugene’s Hayward Field.
She also ran the 5,000 in the 2016 indoor nationals in Birmingham and the 2017 nationals in College Station, Texas, earning All-America honors in 2016 with a fifth-place finish in 15:58.00. She placed 11th in 15:59.19 this past winter. She also earned All-America in cross country when she placed 17th at nationals in the fall of 2016 in Terre Haute, Ind.