Coward Advances on Shortened Second Day of NCAA Championships

June 9, 2011

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By Pat Salvas

DES MOINES, Iowa. (UCFAthletics.com) - Weather delayed the second day of competition at the NCAA Championships at Drake Stadium Thursday night as severe thunderstorms caused the meet to be suspended indefinitely. However, the delay did not affect the UCF women's outdoor track & field team as the Knights were able to fit in all of their scheduled events, including junior Jackie Coward advancing to the finals of the 100-meter hurdles, before inclement weather caused the suspension.

"I am happy for Jackie for advancing, but overall this was not our best performance," head coach Caryl Smith Gilbert said. "We had a tough time tonight and even though it didn't go our way, I am hopeful that qualifying for NCAA's and coming up short this time is something that will motivate us next year. I am positive that this is a great learning experience.

"We still have three events left this season and I know that we are going to be focused and ready for those races. We came here to earn points and put ourselves in a good position to finish in the top 20 and that's what we are going to try and accomplish," Smith Gilbert added.

The delay came with just three scheduled events left in the day and in the midst of the women's 4x400 and the men's long jump. All events will be completed Friday with times to be announced in the morning.

Competition was suspended after the second heat of the 4x400-meter relay event concluded. UCF's Champelle Brown, Afia Charles, Sandy Jean and Sonnisha Williams combined to run a 3:38.54 in the first heat of the event. That time did not secure a spot in Saturday's final as the Knights failed finish in the top four in their heat.

For the second straight year, Coward advanced to the finals of the 100-meter hurdles. Coward posted the eighth-fastest qualifying time of the evening as she ran a 13.11 in her heat to finish fourth. With the top two finishers in each heat automatically qualifying for Saturday's final, Coward's time would need to stand up to earn one of the remaining two at-large spots. Her time proved to be good enough to be one of the two fastest remaining in the field to secure the eighth and final spot.

Coward's time was just one-hundredth of a second faster than that of Evonne Britton from Penn State in another heat to lock up the final spot in Saturday afternoon's final. She will now have the opportunity to improve on last year's fifth-place finish in the finals and earn her second straight All-American First Team honors.

A day after qualifying third in the 100 meters, freshman Aurieyall Scott took to the track in the semifinals of the 200 meters Wednesday night. Like Coward in the 100-meter hurdles, Scott was in one of the fastest heats of the evening, and, like Coward, Scott finished fourth. Unfortunately, she was unable to advance to the finals as her 23.08 was 10th on this night, just missing qualifying by two-hundredths of a second.

That finish earned All-American Second Team honors for the freshman sprinter, joining fellow Knight junior Sheila Paul who was also earned second team honors in the 100 meters on Wednesday.

Scott will run tomorrow in the finals of the 100, set to begin at 7:55 p.m. She will be the only Knight competing Friday as the finals for the 4x100 and 100-meter hurdles will take place on Saturday afternoon.

UCF fans can watch Scott in Friday's final on CBS College Sports, while Saturday's action can be seen live on CBS beginning at noon.

Schedule of Events - UCF (all times Eastern)
Finals - 100 Meters - 7:55 p.m.

Finals - 4x100-Meter Relay - 1:03 p.m.
Finals - 100-Meter Hurdles - 2:09 p.m.

NCAA Championships - June 9, 2011
Drake Stadium - Des Moines, Iowa

200 Meters
10. Aurieyall Scott, 23.08

100-Meter Hurdles
8. Jackie Coward, 13.11 q

4x100-Meter Relay
21. UCF 'A', 3:38.54
(Brown, Charles, Jean, Williams)