Fourteen South Jersey athletes are headed for the NCAA Track Championships this week.
Four men and five women will compete in the NCAA East Region preliminary meet at Robert C. Hughes Track and Field Complex at the University of Indiana in Bloomington, and two men and three women are on their way to the NCAA West Region preliminary meet at John McDonnell Field at the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville.
A total of 48 athletes in each individual event (except multis) comprise the regional fields. The top 12 finishers in each event at each regional meet advance to the NCAA Championships June 8-11 at Hayward Field on the University of Oregon campus in Eugene.
Here’s a look at all 14 qualifiers (all times EST). Note that the rounds listed are the only rounds scheduled for this week. If there’s one round, the top 12 from there advance to nationals. If there are two rounds, the top 12 from the second round advance. The regionals are considered the same meet as NCAAs. So there are no finals in the preliminary round. A race listed as a quarterfinal is the national quarterfinal. If that makes sense.
Eastern Regional Preliminary Meet
Sincere Rhea [St. Augustine, University of Miami], 110 Hurdles
In his first year at Miami after spending last year at Penn State, Rhea PR’d with a 13.89 at LSU last month. Rhea, the Big Ten winner indoors last year, is making his third consevutive trip to NCAAs but his first for the Hurricanes.
Schedule: First round 6 p.m. Wednesday, Quarterfinals 6:15 p.m. Friday
Gabriel Moronta [Pleasantville, Mississsippi State], 400 Hurdles
Moronta, best known in high school as a half-miler, focused on the 400-meter hurdles this spring and got his time down to 51.38 last week at SECs in Oxford, Miss. – more than five seconds faster than he ran in high school. Moronta made it to the finals at NCAA East Regionals last year in the 800, when he ran 1:49.33, but he didn’t run any 800s this spring, and the payoff is a return to NCAA Regionals in a new event.
Schedule: First round 8:20 p.m. Wednesday, Quarterfinals 7:25 p.m. Friday
Mike Ungvarsky [Cinnaminson, Duke], 3,000 steeplechase
Ungvarsky, a Duke grad student, missed six weeks of training this spring with a stress fracture, but he must have done something to stay in shape because when he returned he ran the fastest steeplechase ever by a South Jersey native – 8:46.16 earlier this month at ACCs in Durham, N.C. (since broken by Samuel Gerstenbacher).
Schedule: Semifinals 5:40 p.m. Friday
Adam Hunt [Collingswood, Rutgers], discus
Hunt, a senior, makes his second trip in a row to Eastern Prelims after throwing a discus PR 181-8 in March in Orlando.
Schedule: First round 1 p.m. Friday
Sydney Coppolino [Sterling, Virginia], 800
Coppolino makes her first trip to NCAAs after PR’ing in the trials of the ACC Championships in Durham at 2:06.15 and making the final, where she placed 8th.
Schedule: First round 7:50 p.m. Thursday, Quarterfinals 7:05 p.m. Saturday
Jailya Ash [Eastern, UConn], 100HH
Ash PR’d in the high hurdles with a 13.58 when she placed 2nd at the Big East Championships in Storrs. She’s the 5th-ranked freshman in the entire field at East Prelims, and she’ll be able to hang out with older sister Jewel, who will also be in Bloomington this week.
Schedule: First round 6 p.m. Thursday, Quarterfinals 6:151 p.m. Saturday
Jewel Ash [Eastern, Charleston Southern], 400IH
The highest seed from South Jersey, Ash is the No. 7 seed in the 400-meter intermediate hurdles at 57.16 from the Big South Championships in High Point, N.C., earlier this month before winning the final in 57.92.
Schedule: First round 8:20 p.m. Thursday, Quarterfinals 7:25 p.m. Saturday
Danielle Steff [Rancocas Valley, Monmouth], Javelin
This is Steff’s 4th straight trip to NCAA prelims. She placed 10th in 2019 and made it to nationals. Steff qualified by virtue of her season-best 160-8 in a meet last month at Moravian College in Bethlehem, Pa. Her PR is 166-6 from a dual meet against Rider in Lawrenceville last April.
Schedule: First round 2 p.m. Thursday
Alexa Gardner [Hammonton, Rutgers], Javelin
The only event with two South Jersey competitors, Gardner PR’d with a 157-9 just last weekend at the Big Ten Championships in Minneapolis, but she’s been over 155 feet in her last three meets.
Schedule: First round 2 p.m. Thursday
Western Regional Preliminary Meet
Jack Shea [Cherokee, Northern Arizona], 5,000-meter run
Shea dropped a 13:44.57 PR three weeks ago at the Peyton Jordan Invitational at Stanford in Palo Alto. That was a 12-second PR for Shea, who hadn’t broken 14:08 as recently as February.
Schedule: First round 9:10 p.m., Friday
Nick Mirabelli [Rancocas Valley, Texas A&M], Javelin
Incredible comeback season for Mirabelli, who hadn’t competed since June of 2019. He only threw four times after coming back from a serious injury but his 228-1 not only got him into NCAAs it was only only eight feet off his pre-injury PR of 236-6 from the 2019 Clyde Littlefield Relays in Austin. He’s gotten better each meet this spring. He’s No. 11 seed in the West.
Schedule: First round 3 p.m. Wednesday
Tionna Tobias [Winslow Township, Iowa], 100 Hurdles
Tobias focused on multi-events most of the spring, but the heptathlon field is only a total of 24 athletes, so she goes to NCAAs in the high hurdles, where she had a season best of 13.64 and has a PR of 13.59 as part of last year’s Big Ten heptathlon.
Schedule: First round 7 p.m. Thursday, Quarterfinals 6:15 p.m. Saturday
Nylah Perry [Winslow Township, Iowa], 400 Hurdles
Tobias’s teammate both in high school and college, Perry PR’d with a 59.67 at Big Ten’s in Minneapolis, her first time under a minute.
Schedule: First round 9:20 p.m. Thursday, Quarterfinals 8:25 p.m. Saturday
Elisia Lancaster [Delsea, Southern Illinois], Hammer Throw
Lancaster is a legit All-America candidate after PR’ing with a 220-4 when she won the Missouri Valley Conference meet in Des Moines earlier this month. Lancaster is the No. 9 seed in the Western Region. She’s thrown over 210 feet in her last five meets. Lancaster competed in the hammer last spring at NCAAs and placed 10th in the weight throw at NCAAs this past winter in Birmingham, Ala.
Schedule: First round 11 a.m. Thursday