Leach Earns Third All-American Hurdles Honor With Runner-Up Finish At NCAA's
June 13, 2008
Junior Nicole Leach battled to the finish line, but LSU's Nickiesha Wilson edged out the defending 400m hurdles champion, giving Leach a second-place finish in the intermediates on Friday evening at the NCAA Championships in Des Moines, IA. Leach's finish gave the Bruin her third consecutive All-American honor in the hurdles.
From the gun, Leach seemed to take the lead before Wilson caught up and surged ahead around the fourth hurdle of the race. Wilson continued to lead before Leach closed with about 125m to go as both women ran side by side towards the finish line. Wilson crossed the tape in a new Drake Stadium record time of 54.45, while Leach was just behind her in a season-best time of 54.62 (also would have set a new stadium record).
Last season, Leach won the 400m hurdle title, while Wilson finished second.
On her race
'I felt like I had a pretty good race. The biggest thing that Bobby (Kersee) and I wanted to work on in the race was alternating coming home and I had a problem at the 10th hurdle. I don't know if that kind of hindered my finish or not.
'I tried to stay in my race and focus on my step pattern. I didn't know she was there because I was focused on me.'
On heading into Trials in two weeks
'This let's me know what I need to work on - the last hurdle. Anything can happen at Trials, so I'm just going to get back to practice, work on what needs fixing, and focus running well at Trials.'
'That was a pretty good race for Nicole,' said head coach Jeanette Bolden. 'She ran a season-best and that's always a good sign at a meet like this. To see both women go over the eighth, ninth and 10th hurdle together is pretty exciting. Unfortunately, Nickiesha came out on top this year.'
Leach returns to competition on Saturday as she and the 4x400m relay will run for All-American honors.
In the triple jump, senior Renee Williams finished 14th overall (42-7.50) and just two places shy of a spot in the finals on Saturday (42-11 was the 12th and final qualfying mark for finals). Williams ends her career as a two-time NCAA All-American, No. 7 all-time at UCLA in the long jump (21-1.50, indoor) and No. 3 all-time in the triple jump (44-3.25).
In the pole vault, junior Katy Viuf finished 11th overall (12-9.50) in the first NCAA competition of her career. Viuf, who was a cheerleader for UCLA her freshman year of college, spent last season learning the pole vault. In her first full year with the Bruin vault crew, Viuf earned All-Pac-10 and All-West Region honors and competed at the NCAA Outdoor Championships.
Team Scores Will Be Updated Later This Evening