Watkins & Watson Earn All-American Honors In Long Jump At NCAA Outdoor

June 11, 2009


Rhonda Watkins and Danielle Watson both earned All-American honors in the long jump on Thursday at the NCAA Outdoor Championships in Fayetteville, Arkansas, while Nicole Leach cemented herself as the 400m hurdles favorite to highlight the Bruin women competing.

Watkins, the 2007 NCAA Indoor and Outdoor long jump titlist, ends her career with a fifth All-American honor in the jumps. Watkins finished fourth overall with a season-best mark of 21-5.25, missing the NCAA crown by 1/4 of an inch. There was a three-way tie for first with marks of 21-5.50 for the three competitors as Watkins finished fourth by the slimmest of margins.

'I'm disappointed and frustrated,' said Watkins. 'I thought I was over my fouling problem, but I fouled four of my six jumps. I am grateful I was able to get here and be healthy enough to compete.'

Watkins ends her career ranked second all-time in UCLA history for the long jump (22-4) and tied for sixth all-time in the high jump (6-0.50). She tallied five NCAA All-American honors, earning accolades in the high jump in 2007 and in the long jump during the indoor and outdoor season of 2007, as well as this year in both indoor and outdoor long jump.

She won four West Region crowns and was a three-time Pac-10 champion in the jumps.

Watkins will next try to make the World Championship team for Trinadad and Tobago.

Watson, competing in her first NCAA meet, earns All-American honors with a 11th-place finish due to the amount of foreign competitors. She had a mark of 19-7.50 after struggling with hip flexor issues during the competition.

Leach easily advanced to the finals of the 400m hurdles as she won by over a second with a season-best time of 55.83. She will vie for her second and final NCAA crown on Friday evening.

'I'm just going to let it all go tomorrow and whatever I have will be left on the track,' said Leach. 'I feel fine and just need to work on the first half of my race and finish strong.'

Leach had double duty on Thursday as she anchored the 4x400m relay team during the prelim rounds. Ashlea McLaughlin led off, followed by Krystin Lacy, Camilla Dencer and Leach as the Bruins finished 13th in a time of 3:36.28. They did not advance to the finals.

In the heptathlon, freshman Ryann Krais ended day one in 14th-place with a score of 3333 points. Krais, the youngest competitor in the field tallied a season-best in the high jump during the competition.

In the 100m hurdles, Krais ran 13.80 for the eighth-fastest time of the day and 1007 points. She then had a fine performance in the high jump, clearing a season-high 5-6.50 to tie for first in her flight and tie for 11th overall, picking up 842 points. In the shot put, Krais posted a mark of 35-9.50 for 589 points (19th overall). She ended the day with the 13th-fastest time in the 200m (24.91) for 895 points and a four-event total of 3333 points.

She is just 64 points out of eighth-place with three events to go - the long jump, javelin and 800m. Krais is a solid long jumper and 800m runner and has made great strides in the javelin this season and will look to make a move into All-American position on Friday.

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