May 31, 2014
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Three-time All-American sprinter Celina Emerson secured her spot at the NCAA Championship in Oregon next month when she broke her own school record in the 400m on Friday evening in Jacksonville. The senior crossed the finish line at the 52.79 marker to slide into eleventh place and earn her fourth overall and first individual trip to the NCAA Championships. The achievement also cements her place in UConn history as the lone 400m sprinter to earn a trip to the NCAA Outdoor Championship.
Emerson also helped the 4x400m relay team clinch a berth in the NCAA Championships with another record-setting performance. The quartet of Emerson, Joseph, Dismuke, and Smith-Jenkins finished in 11th place with a time of 3:34.83 to book a trip to Oregon. This marks the first year in program history that both the 4x100m and 4x400m relay teams competed at the NCAA East Regionals in the same year.
Emerson posted a time of 53.47 to advance out of Thursday evening's preliminary heats, where teammate Nyanka Joseph capped her individual season with a time of 54.55. Emerson shaved her time down to a 52.79 in Friday's quarterfinal, which resets the school record of 52.80 that she established at the American Athletic Conference Championship in the beginning of May. She now owns both the indoor and outdoor 400m records at UConn after posting a 53.38 in February to set the school's indoor standard.
"It is great to see someone that's been working so hard make it to the NCAA Finals in her individual race," commented interim head coach Clive Terrelonge. "To see Celina make UConn history, I'm so proud and couldn't be happier for her. She is a three-time All-American on the relay and now will get a chance to accomplish the same feat in Oregon in her individual event."
Brigitte Mania and Faith Dismuke represented UConn in the 800m run, with Mania advancing to the semifinal round. Dismuke concluded her individual season in the preliminaries on Thursday evening with a personal best time of 2:06.87 while Mania posted the twelfth-best time of 2:05.63 to reach the semifinals. The senior bowed out in the round with a time of 2:06.43 to finish 16th.
Just missing a trip to Oregon was junior multi-events student-athlete Saija Bikanova. Her height of 1.77m (5-9.75) in the high jump was good for 15th place among the competition.
Emily Durgin put forth a valiant effort in her first-ever NCAA East Regional competition. She finished the 10,000m run in 36:52.41, drawing to an end an excellent sophomore campaign that saw her tabbed Most Outstanding Performer at the first-ever American Athletic Conference Indoor Track & Field Championship in March.
Also competing in the sprints for UConn were Deysha Smith-Jenkins and Taylor Anderson. Anderson concluded a stellar spring with a time of 11.84 seconds in the 100m preliminary round and clocked a 24.42 in the 200m prelims. Deysha Smith-Jenkins finished her preliminary 200m round in 24.11. Neither were able to advance to Friday's quarterfinals.
The 4x100m relay team of Emerson, Smith-Jenkins, Anderson and Joseph crossed the finish line in 45.46 and were unable to advance. Odrine Belot also competed on Saturday, finishing the triple jump in 21st place after a 12.68m (41-7.25) effort.
"Our athletes are all performing well at this NCAA first and second round and we're looking to keep it going," Coach Terrelonge concluded.