UCF Track & Field Prepares for NCAA Outdoor Championships in Des Moines

June 7, 2011

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By Pat Salvas

ORLANDO, Fla. (UCFAthletics.com) - The UCF outdoor track & field team has seen its shares of ups and downs this season, but none of that matters come Wednesday afternoon when it begins the NCAA Championships at Drake Stadium in Des Moines. Several members of the 2011 Conference USA champions will represent the program in the final collegiate meet of the season.

Led by 2011 U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) South Region Head Coach of the Year Caryl Smith Gilbert, the Knights will compete in five events over the four-day meet, starting with the semifinals of the 4x100-meter relay and 100 meters. Thursday will feature the Black and Gold running in the 200 meters, the 100-meter hurdles and the 4x400-meter relay. If a UCF runner advances in the 100 on Wednesday, the national final heat will take place on Friday evening, while the final heats in the remaining events are set for Saturday.

Three UCF student-athletes qualified for the 100-meter national semifinals this week in Des Moines. Freshmen Dominique Booker and Aurieyall Scott and junior Sheila Paul all qualified for the NCAA Championships after advancing through the East Preliminary Round last weekend in Bloomington, Ind. This will be the second straight NCAA Championship appearance for Paul, who also qualified last year in the same event.

Scott is the only individual runner who qualified for two events as she will also run in the 200 meters, which is set for Thursday at 6:30 p.m. ET. Scott, who won the C-USA Championship in both the 100 and 200 meters, is seeded 11th after posting a program record 22.98 in this event earlier this season.

Junior Jackie Coward will make her second straight appearance at Nationals in the 100-meter hurdles after advancing last weekend in Indiana. One of the top runners in this event all year, the C-USA champion is seeded eighth in the field of 24 semifinalists. At last year's NCAA Championships in Eugene, Ore., Coward became the first UCF Outdoor All-American with a fifth-place finish in the finals of the same event. Already an indoor All-American, Coward earned the distinction of becoming the first athlete in program history to also earn the honor during the outdoor season.

UCF's 4x100-meter relay team has been one of the top in the nation all season, posting the fourth fastest time in the country in 2011 with a 43.42 to win the C-USA title. The event will mark the first of the meet for the Knights as it gets underway Wednesday at 6:30 p.m. ET. The foursome of Booker, Scott, Lynne Layne and Paul made up the qualifying team in Bloomington with slight changes expected for this week's race.

The 4x400-meter relay will get started 9 p.m. ET on Thursday night and marks the final semifinal heat of the meet for the Black and Gold. Champelle Brown, Sonnisha Williams, Sandy Jean and Erica Winston represented the Knights last weekend and will look to continue their strong showings in Des Moines.

Each event will feature three semifinal heats with the top two finishers in each automatically qualifying for the respective final. After the top six spots have been filled by those automatically qualifying, the next two fastest times will secure the remaining spots in the finals.

UCF will look to earn All-American honors for the second time in as many seasons. The policy regarding All-American status states that: Individuals and relays that score any portion of a team point in an NCAA Track & Field Championship will earn USTFCCCA First-Team All-America honors (place first through eighth). Those individuals and relays that place between nine and 16 overall (including ties) in an NCAA Track & Field Championship will earn USTFCCCA Second-Team All-America honors. Those who do not meet the criteria above, but participate at least a round of the finals site for an NCAA Championship will be listed as Honorable Mention All-America.

Fans can follow all the action with a live webcast provided by NCAA.com and GoDrakeBulldogs.com for those portions of the meet that will not be broadcast on TV. CBS Sports Network will begin its two-hour coverage Friday night at 7:30 p.m. before CBS takes over on Saturday from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. ET. Live results will also be available for fans by clicking the appropriate links on the UCF track & field schedule page.

The meet will take place in Drake Stadium, which has a capacity of 14,557 and is home to the school's football, men's and women's soccer teams and the annual Drake Relays.

Schedule of Events - UCF (all times Eastern)
Semifinals - 4x100-Meter Relay - 6:30 p.m.
Semifinals - 100 Meters - 8:15 p.m.

Semifinals - 200 Meters - 6:30 p.m.
Semifinals - 100-Meter Hurdles - 7:50 p.m.
Semifinals - 4x400-Meter Relay - 9 p.m.

Finals - 100 Meters - 7:55 p.m.

Finals - 4x100-Meter Relay - 1:03 p.m.
Finals - 200 Meters - 1:41 p.m.
Finals - 100-Meter Hurdles - 2:09 p.m.
Finals - 4x400-Meter Relay - 2:40 p.m.