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Five Knights set for NCAA Preliminary Rounds in Lexington

by Alex Clough

LEXINGTON, Kentucky – With the program’s inaugural Big 12 Outdoor Championship behind them, five Knights will continue their journey this week at the NCAA East Preliminary Rounds. Hosted by Kentucky at the Outdoor Track and Field Facility, head coach Dana Boone and her squad will strive to advance through the first two rounds en route to the NCAA National Championships next month in Eugene, Oregon.

The men and women will compete on alternate days, with the Knights’ squad set for first rounds across three track events on Thursday, May 23, before qualified athletes will advance to the quarterfinals on Saturday, May 25.

24 athletes will qualify from the original field of 48 for the second round, then in which 12 will eventually advance and join the 12 athletes who qualified from the West Preliminary at Hayward Field for the National Championships.

As for Asherah Collins, she’ll first look to punch her ticket to nationals in the long jump on Thursday at 6 p.m. before looking to secure a third-consecutive qualification in the triple jump on Saturday at 6 p.m.

Four flights will decide the 12 that advance in each event.

Here’s a breakdown of each Knights who will compete this weekend:

ASHERAH COLLINS

  • Long Jump: Thursday @ 3 p.m. (Flight Four/Position Eight)
  • Triple Jump: Saturday @ 6 p.m. (Flight Four/Position Five)

Fresh off her first second-team All-America honor at the 2023 NCAA Outdoor Championships, Collins has continued her progress with a strong debut season in the Big 12. Earlier this month at the conference championship, Collins placed fourth in the triple jump following a strong 13.25m showing.

The current record-holder in the event at 13.48m, she has consistently been pushing that mark. Paired with continued growth in the long jump in which she secured a personal-best 6.45m mark, the Lake City, Florida, native is in great form.

With top-12 performances in each event this week, Collins would become the first athlete in program history to qualify for the national championships in both the long and triple jump. 

Y'VETTE HARRIS

  • 100m Hurdles (First Round): Thursday @ 3 p.m. (Heat Four/Lane Five)
  • 100m Hurdles (Quarterfinals): Saturday @ 6:10 p.m. (Top Three Each Heat + Six Best Times)

The lone freshman lacing it up this week for the Knights, Harris has been brilliant through her debut collegiate season. During indoor season, while competing in the heptathlon, Harris continued to drop times in the 60m hurdles en route to her 15th place finish at the Big 12 Championship.

During outdoor season, Harris built on an already impressive resume with 13.41-performance in the 100m hurdles at the Tom Jones Memorial, the 10th-best time in program history. The first freshman in program history to qualify in the 100m hurdles, she will look to cement her place in history with a qualification for the national championships.

RAYNIAH JONES

  • 100m Hurdles (First Round): Thursday @ 3 p.m. (Heat Four/Lane Five)
  • 100m Hurdles (Quarterfinals): Saturday @ 6:10 p.m. (Top Three Each Heat + Six Best Times)

Jones needs no introduction as she embarks on the NCAA East Preliminary Rounds for the fourth consecutive season. Now a Big 12 Champion following her dominating display in the 100m hurdles in Waco, Texas earlier this month, her final stretch of collegiate track and field will begin this week.

The conference title marked the first for any athlete in UCF history, cementing her place as a legend in Black and Gold. Her times have been consistent in 2024, as she currently sits at sixth in the nation.

With a season-best 12.77 at the East Coast Relays and her 12.78 to win the Big 12 100m hurdles, the eight-time All-American will look to advance to the national championships for her fourth and final time.

KIAH WILLIAMS

  • 400m Dash (First Round) @ 4:25 p.m. (Heat Six/Lane Two)
  • 400m Dash (Quarterfinals) @ 6:50 p.m. (Top Three Each Heat + Six Best Times)

After completing the double at the Big 12 Outdoor Championship, scoring in both the 200m and 400m, Williams will embark on her third-consecutive NCAA East Preliminary. Competing in the 400m once again, she has consistently tested the program record and dropped her personal bests through 2024.

Her 51.32 at the Tom Jones Memorial currently sits 15th in the nation, while Williams is fresh off a fourth-place finish at the Big 12 Outdoor Championship.

In 2023, the Hallandale, Florida, native made her first appearance at the NCAA Outdoor Championship, eventually finishing 21st and securing an All-America honorable mention. 

I'ASIA WILSON

  • 100m Hurdles (First Round): Thursday @ 4 p.m. (Heat Five/Lane Nine)
  • 100m Hurdles (Quarterfinals): Saturday @ 6:35 p.m. (Top Three Each Heat + Six Best Times)

A member of the Knights’ first-team All-America 4x100m relay squad in 2022, Wilson has since salified herself in the 100m dash with her second-consecutive qualification to the NCAA East Preliminary in the event. 

Earlier this month in Waco, Wilson just missed out on the podium with a respective 10th-place finish with her time of 11.42. Her 11.39 at the Florida Relays in March remains a personal best and one of the top times in program history.