Leach & 4x400m Relay Advance To Finals At NCAA Championships
June 12, 2008
Junior Nicole Leach will defend her NCAA 400m hurdles crown on Friday after posting the No. 2 semifinal time at the NCAA Championships in Des Moines, IA. Leach won her heat in a time of 55.98 and will run out of lane six in her quest to win her second consecutive hurdles crown. The 4x400m relay also qualified for the finals after finishing eighth in the semifinal round.
'I feel fine,' said Leach. 'I still have some parts of my race to work on and I need to execute my step pattern better. The first half of the race was good, but I had some problems in the second half. I just need to put it all together and I'll be fine.'
On defending her title on Saturday
'I have so much adrenaline going through me right now. I'm ready and I've known in practice I'm ready. I'm just going to use the crowd on Saturday and my adrenaline to come away with the win.'
On how Nationals is preparing her for the Olympic Trials in two weeks
'This is helping to build my confidence. Once I get to Trials, I know it will be a whole new group of people to compete against. It'll help to run in front of a large crowd like they have here because there will be a big audience in Oregon.'
Leach then went on to anchor the 4x400m relay team of Merice Wisdom, Krystin Lacy and Krishna Curry to a season-best time of 3:32.45 as the foursome's time was eighth overall on the day. They will run for All-American honors on Saturday in the final.
The Bruins team competition took a big hit in the long jump as the defending NCAA champion, Rhonda Watkins, fouled out of the competition. Watkins re-aggravated a right hamstring injury she had suffered with for most of the season on her first jump attempt, and subsequently was unable to get off a fair mark. Next week is the National Championship for Watkins' native country, Trinidad and Tobago, and hopefully she will be able to compete for a spot at the Beijing Olympic Games.
In the prelims of the 200m, senior Jolanda Diego just missed a spot in the semifinals as she finished 17th in a time of 23.75. Diego ends her career at UCLA eighth all-time in the 200m (23.14) and 10th all-time in the 100m (11.46).
Freshman Lindsay Rowe placed 23rd in the 100m hurdles in a time of 13.80.
On Friday, the finals of the pole vault will be contested as junior Katy Viuf will go for the first All-American honor of her career. Leach will look to defend her 400m hurdles crown on Friday night as well. Senior Renee Williams will compete in the prelims of the triple jump to wrap up Friday's Bruin competitors.
200m - 17. Jolanda Diego, 23. 75
100m Hurdles - 23. Lindsay Rowe, 13.80
400m Hurdles - 2. Nicole Leach, 55.98*
4x400m - Wisdom, Lacy, K. Curry, Leach, 3:32.45*
Long Jump - Rhonda Watkins, Foul