Coward Becomes UCF's First Outdoor All-American

June 10, 2010

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By Andrew Gavin

EUGENE, Ore. (UCFAthletics.com) - UCF head coach Caryl Smith Gilbert knew she was getting a special student-athlete when sophomore Jackie Coward (Knoxville, Tenn.) committed to UCF two years ago. Coward again proved just that Thursday evening, locking in her spot as UCF's first NCAA Outdoor All-American by qualifying fourth for the 100-meter hurdles final at the NCAA Outdoor Track & Field Championships at Historic Hayward Field.

Competing in the first of three preliminary heats Thursday, Coward came from behind to pass UNC's Vanneisha Ivy and cross the finish line in second place in 13.04 seconds. By finishing among the top-two finishers in her heat, Coward earned an automatic spot in Saturday's eight-person final. She qualified fourth among the finalists behind Virginia Tech's Queen Quedith Harrison (12.68), Miami's Ti'erra Brown (12.74) and Virginia Tech's Kristi Castlin (12.97).

"It was a good day as Jackie did a good job executing her race," said Smith Gilbert. "She was behind early, but she was able to keep it together and hold her composure. She has improved enough to keep her rhythm and come from behind, but she is still not even close to how fast she can run this year. It will be fun to watch her run in the finals on Saturday."

She also assured herself of gaining All-American status as one of the top-eight finishers in the event. Already one of the program's four indoor NCAA All-Americans, Coward becomes the program's first outdoor All-American in her first trip to nationals.

Pointing to the strength of the East Region, seven of the eight athletes in Saturday's final will be from the East Region, with the just the eighth-place qualifier coming from the West. It also means that Coward will be familiar with her competition Saturday after competing against many in the field for much of the season.

Coward will seek a national championship on Saturday in the 100-meter hurdles final at 2:09 p.m. EST. Coward's teammate, freshman Sonnisha Williams (Jacksonville, Fla.), will also compete Saturday as she will be in the 24-athlete long jump field at 12:30 p.m. EST. The final day of competition will be aired live nationally on CBS beginning at 1 p.m. EST.


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