The 35th-ranked Lady Toppers will send athletes to compete in three events at this weekend’s NCAA Indoor National Championships in College Station, Texas. Janet Jesang qualified with the ninth-fastest 5,000-meter run time, Valerie Brown will run in the 400 meters and the women’s 4×400 squad (composed of Miaie Williams, Samantha Smith, Alexcia Brown and Valerie Brown) will also compete.
The two individuals and one relay team is a school-record number of competitors for Western, and doesn’t take into account Brown’s lack of declaration to run in the 200-meter dash alongside the 400 meters and the 4×400.
Although the men’s 4×400 team finally sprinted to an NCAA provisional qualifying time last weekend, it didn’t hold up along with a few other Hilltopper performances recorded over the winter. Gavin Smellie’s 21.39-second 200-meter time from the Sun Belt Indoor Championships fell through the cracks, and Jesang’s 3,000-meter run time was bumped on the final weekend.
Western has a number of athletes currently qualified for the NCAA Indoor National Championships March 13-14 in College Station, Texas. Janet Jesang has earned the only NCAA Automatic Standard time for the team, running 16:04.78 in the 5,000 meters at the UW Husky Classic Feb. 14.
At the Sun Belt Indoor Championships last weekend, Valerie Brown lit up the board with a 0.3-second improvement on her 400-meter provisional-qualifying time (53.28) and put herself in position to compete in the 200-meters with a time of 23.94. Also breaking through last weekend was Gavin Smellie. The junior sprinter overcame a nagging knee injury to run a 21.48 provisional-qualifying time in the preliminaries, then improved to 21.39 in the Sunday final.
Success at the Rod McCravy Invitational in early February is still spilling over to nationals. Jesang recorded a provisional time in the 3,000 meters with a 9:26.68 and the women’s 4×400 relay team posted a 3:37.97, good enough for second nationally at the time an still holds solidly in tenth.
The men’s 4×400 has a legit shot at marking a provisional-qualifying time at the Iowa State Last Chance Meet this weekend in Ames, Iowa.
Senior Valerie Brown’s record-setting 400-meter and 4×400 times earned the veteran sprinter Sun Belt Conference Track Performer of the Week following the Rod McCravy Invitational in Lexington, Ky.
Brown’s time of 53.58 seconds in the 400 meters set new Western and Sun Belt records and ranked third-best in the nation so far in the indoor season. Her anchor position on the 4×400 team, composed of junior Miaie Williams, junior Samantha Smith and senior Alecia Brown, helped clock a 3:37.97, also good enough for new Western and Sun Belt records.
Brown’s Performer of the Week honor comes on the heels of freshman Sharika Smith’s nomination for KyTrackXC.com Female Athlete of the Week following the Lady Topper’s meet at Middle Tennessee. Brian Soverns was named for the same award after throwing a personal-best 59-1.25 in the weight throw on Jan. 24.