Stewart leads Ole Miss track and field on first day of East Regional


From Special Reports



TAMPA, Fla. -- Janeah Stewart kicked off the NCAA East Regional in style Thursday for the Ole Miss track and field team. 


The senior All-American punched her first of three potential tickets to the national meet by winning the regional title in the shot put with a mark of 17.50 meters (57 feet, 5 inches). Stewart was in ninth place at the time of the throw and already had secured a spot in the national meet. 


Stewart will compete Friday in the discus and Saturday morning in the hammer. 


A press release for Mississippi State wasn't available at press time. 


Seven other Ole Miss student-athletes advanced to the quarterfinals after running qualifying races Thursday. 


In the men's 1,500, senior Robert Domanic, the fastest 1,500 runner in the United States this season, took an auto-qualifier spot by winning heat three at 3 minutes, 50.70 seconds. He led the final lap with a 53.73 final lap. Freshman Cade Bethmann was in the running down the stretch in the same heat, but he fell short in eighth in the heat at 3:51.87. 


In heat two, three Rebels punched their tickets to the quarterfinals, led by freshman Waleed Suliman. The Rebels played a tactical race until the bell lap, when Suliman led the field with a 53.11 final lap to win the heat at 3:52.84. Senior Trevor Gilley (fourth, 3:53.07) and freshman Everett Smulders (fifth, 3:53.24) followed Suliman's lead with a 53.71 and 54.18 in the final 400 to earn the final two automatic qualifying spots in the heat. 


The women's 800 was unexpectedly brisk considering the temperatures, but junior Maddie McHugh, the Southeastern Conference bronze medalist in the event, snagged an AQ spot in a very fast first round. McHugh was in the sixth and final heat with a third-place finish (2:06.17). The top-four times were under 2:04, and nine of the 24 quarterfinalists ran a season or personal best. 


Senior Jolie Carbo clipped off the fastest 400 of her career to earn the top time qualifier slot to the quarterfinal at 52.78. 


Fellow senior Shannon Ray finished fourth in the first heat at a wind-legal season-best 11.40 (+1.7), and then had to sit back for five more heats to see if her time could hang on. Ray owns a career-best 11.25 from the season-opener in Los Angeles for the Trailblazer Challenge at USC, which held an NCAA-legal (but IAAF illegal) 3.5 wind reading. 


Freshman Allen Gordon competed in the long jump, but fell short of punching his ticket to Eugene in 16th place at 7.52m (24-8 1/4). Gordon will compete Saturday in the high jump. 


Fellow freshman John Rivera Jr. finished 45th in the 800 (1:51.69). 




Alabama qualifies five on first day 


Alabama track and field's Vincent Kiprop, Alfred Chelanga, Gilbert Kigen, Daniel Haugh, and Portious Warren punched their tickets Thursday to the NCAA Championships. 


Kiprop, Chelanga and Kigen finished 1-9-10, respectively in the men's 10,000. Kiprop won the race with a time of 29:16.49 after edging Campbell's Lawrence Kipkoech and Michigan's Ben Flanagan down the stretch. 


Chelanga and Kigen crossed the finish line in 29:26.35 and 29:28.76, respectively. The trio earned three of the 12 qualifying spots for the NCAA Championships on June 6-9 at Oregon's Hayward Field.  


In the day's first event, Haugh finished fourth in the men's hammer throw with an effort of 234-3 (71.41m). 


Warren opened the evening session with a fifth-place finish in the women's shot put (55-8 ½, 16.98m) to join Haugh. 


"This was a solid opening day," Alabama coach Dan Waters said. "Any time you're competing in a regional, the objective is to get through to the championships and we were able to do that in several events. I'm also pleased we advanced to the quarterfinals in the sprints and hurdles today. That sets us up well for the rest of the meet." 


In first-round action, junior Keitavious Walter finished third in his heat in the men's 100 in 10.34 to advance to Friday's quarterfinals, which will determine the 12 runners who will advance to the national championships. Freshman Champion Allison also qualified for the quarterfinals in the men's 400 (46.08). 


Quarterfinal advancers for the Tide women were freshman Tamara Clark, who won her heat in the women's 100 (11.32), and senior Kaitlin Walker, who finished second in her heat of the women's 400 hurdles (58.49) to advance.



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