BUFFALO, NY – A total of eight University at Buffalo athletes have earned invitations to compete in the NCAA Division I Outdoor Track and Field East Region Preliminary Round, the first step to the NCAA National Championships. The regionals are scheduled for May 26-28 at Indiana University's Robert C. Haugh Track & Field Complex in Bloomington.
Representing the UB women's team are throwers Becky O'Brien and Shante' White. For the UB men, six athletes, throwers Rob Golabek, Evan Palmer and Matt Gac, sprinter Brian Smith and hurdlers Will Cole and Andrew Omoregie, are among those entered in the field.
O'Brien will compete in both the women's discus and shot put events. The Mid-American Conference champion in both events, O'Brien enters the preliminary competition seeded first in the discus and fourth in the shot put among the 48 throwers entered in each event with seedings determined by an athlete's best performance during the season. At last weekend's MAC Championships in DeKalb, IL, O'Brien broke the MAC, MAC meet and UB records in winning the women's shot put with a winning heave of 56-6 (17.22m). She also took the discus with a throw of 193-8 (59.04m), breaking the MAC record by seven feet and extending an amazing 20 feet onto her own UB record. The qualifying round for the women's shot put is Friday, May 27 at 1:00 pm. O'Brien's top throw ranks her fourth behind Indiana's Faith Sherrill (17.64m), Tennessee's Annie Alexander (17.62m) and Keely Medeiros of Florida (17.26m). O'Brien will enter the discus competition, slated for Saturday, May 28 at 11:00 am, nearly three meters ahead of any other competitor. Alexander is seeded second with a top throw of 56.22 meters.
White, who won her first MAC title with a record breaking performance in the women's hammer throw, enters as the number four seed. Her MAC meet and UB school record throw of 206-4 (62.90m) ranks her behind Virginia Tech's Dorotea Habazin (68.36m), Nikola Lomnicka of Georgia (64.70m) and Laura Igaune of Western Kentucky (64.44m). The women's hammer will be the first event of the meet, slated to start at 11:00 am on Thursday, May 26.
Golabek enters the men's shot put competition, scheduled for Thursday, May 26 at 1:00 pm, as the number two seed. Golabek broke his own record in the shot put for the third time this season in winning his second consecutive MAC title with a throw of 62-11.25 (19.18m). Golabek only trails Auburn redshirt freshman Stephen Saenz in the event. Saenz won the Southeastern Conference shot put title last week with a throw of 63-3 (19.58m).
Palmer and Gac will compete in both the men's hammer at 11:00 am on Friday, May 27 and the men's discus at 5:00 pm on Saturday, May 28. Both throwers posted season-best marks in the hammer at the MAC Championships with Gac throwing 196-2 (59.79m) and Palmer throwing 195-8 (59.65m) to be seeded 30th and 34th, respectively, in the event. Virginia Tech's Marcel Lomnicky is seeded first at 75.84 meters. Palmer is seeded 21st and Gac 22nd in the discus as Palmer won the MAC title at 177-2 (54.00m) and Gac finished second at 176-8 (53.84m). Undefeated James Plummer of Rutgers holds the top seed in the discus with a throw of 60.43 meters. Gac advanced to the NCAA National Championships in both events last season following a sixth-place finish in the discus and 11th-place showing in the hammer at last season's preliminary round in Greensboro, NC.
Smith earned the number 33 seed in the men's 200-meters after winning the MAC title last weekend with a season-best performance of 21.12 seconds, one-hundredth of a second off his season-best and three-hundredths shy of his school record. Smith is the only MAC athlete in the 200-meter field. The 200-meters begins on Friday, May 27 with first round heats at 8:00 pm and quarterfinal races on Saturday, May 28 at 7:50 pm.
Cole earned his first MAC title last week in the men's 400-meter hurdles as he cut a full second off his season best finishing in 51.74 seconds to earn the 22nd seed. Cole held off second-place finisher and 2009 MAC champion K.C. Lacross of Akron by a tenth of a second in the race as Lacross earned the 24th seed. First round competition begins on Thursday, May 26 at 4:00 pm with the quarterfinals on Friday, May 27 at 7:15 pm.
Omoregie finished third in the men's 110-meter hurdles at the MAC Championships in 14.39 seconds. He is seeded 41st based on his season-best time of 14.24 seconds when he won the 110-meter hurdles title at Cornell's Big Red Invitational on May 1. First round races for the men's 110-meter hurdles are Friday, May 27 at 5:00 pm with the quarterfinals on Saturday, May 28 at 7:20 pm.
"We are very pleased to have such a large group heading to the NCAA Preliminary Round," said UB women's head coach Vicki Mitchell. "Our athletes are going into the competition in excellent rankings, and we anticipate a very competitive meet and several to advance on to the NCAA Final Championships. Our season, despite being plagued with challenging weather conditions, has led to several breakthrough performances by our athletes. We expect to see this continue."
The top 12 finishers in each event will move on to the NCAA Outdoor Track and Field National Championships, June 8-11 in Des Moines, IA. The West Region Preliminary Round will also be held May 26-28 in Eugene, OR as 24 total spots in the national field will be determined from the two regional meets. The Bulls advanced three athletes, Gac and Kristy Woods (who redshirted the 2011 season) in throws and pole vaulter Tiffany Maskulinski to the 2010 National Championships also held in Eugene. Woods finished third in the women's shot put championships to earn All-America honors.