Fetherstonhaugh, Mitchell ready for NCAA championships
Corvallis, Ore. – Oregon State steeplechasers Grace Fetherstonhaugh and Kaylee Mitchell will take their first steps toward the NCAA steeplechase finals on Thursday when each competes in her preliminary heat at the NCAA Track & Field Championships at Hayward Field in Eugene.
A redshirt junior from New Westminster, B.C., Fetherstonehaugh will run in heat 1 at 6:02 p.m. Her qualifying time (9:50.13) is fifth-fastest in her 12-woman heat. Her PR of 9:44.76, posted on April 22 at Hayward Field, is the school record.
Mitchell is a senior from Salem who is seeded sixth in her 12-member heat, based on her 9:53.00 qualifying time. Her PR of 9:48.30, posted at the 2021 Pacific-12 Conference championships, is No. 2 on OSU's all-time list.
The top five finishers in each heat, and the next two-fastest times from either heat, advance to Saturday's 2:54 p.m. finals.
OSU coach Louie Quintana said the duo don't have to do anything" spectacular or out of the ordinary" to advance to the finals.
"At this level, all 24 athletes competing are very, very good," he said. "So, they just need to run their race, hurdle well and stay clear of trouble.
"As with most of the women in the field, they will need to treat the prelim like a final. Race smart, race hard and stay competitive to the end."
This will be their fifth meet of the season at Hayward Field, and they won't have to travel across several time zones or sleep in an unfamiliar hotel bed, like many in the field.
"It's an advantage for sure" to be competing in a familiar venue so close to home, Quintana said. "It's very beneficial in terms of knowing the meet flow, check-in procedures and what they can and can't do during warmup."
This is Fetherstonhaugh's second consecutive trip to NCAAs. She had to scratch at last year's finals because of illness. It will be Mitchell's first appearance.
Both earned All-American honors earlier this year at the NCAA Indoor Championships. Fetherstonhaugh and Mitchell ran legs on OSU's fourth-place distance medley relay, and both earned second-team All-American honors in the 3,000, where Fetherstonhaugh placed ninth, Mitchell 12th.
"It's been a great season," Quintana said. "We are looking forward to a great meet on Thursday."
OSU has not scored at an NCAA meet since 1986, when Connie Peterka placed sixth in the javelin. The last track athlete to score at NCAAs was heptathlete Sonya Crowther, who was seventh in 1982.
Eugene, Ore. | University of Oregon
Thursday's OSU entrants
3000 steeplechase prelims (6:02 p.m.): Grace Fetherstonhaugh, heat 1; Kaylee Mitchell, heat 2.
Saturday's OSU entrants
3000 steeplechase finals (2:54 p.m.): TBA