Golden Eagles Send Eight to NCAA Preliminary Round

Olivia Johnson will make her first appearance at an NCAA Division I regional meet

May 21, 2010

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MILWAUKEE - Eight Marquette University track and field student-athletes will compete in the NCAA Division I 2010 Outdoor Track and Field Championships - West Preliminary Round on May 27-29 in Austin, Texas, the NCAA announced Friday afternoon. It is the most participants MU has ever sent to regional competition since the format began in 2003.

"Obviously having the championship field announced was exciting," head coach Bert Rogers said. "Even though we were not expecting a few athletes to make the field we felt like they had a chance. It was a nice surprise to get Nick (Szczech), Olivia (Johnson), Blake (Johnson) and Jeff (Kluge) into the meet since they were outside the top-48 competitors on the descending order list."

Five of the eight participants will be making their debut appearances in NCAA regional competition. Those competing for the first time are Peter Bolgert and Blake Johnson in the 3,000-meter steeplechase, Nick Szczech in the 10,000-meter run, Jeff Kluge in the hammer throw and Olivia Johnson in the 1,500-meter run. 

Senior Jayne Grebinski will make her third appearance in an NCAA regional, while Erynn James and Rachel Thiel will each be making their second trip.

Grebinski will compete in the steeplechase for the second-consecutive year after bettering her personal best at the Mt. SAC Relays on April 15 with a time of 10:23.86. She currently sits second in MU history in that event, while also holding the school record in the 5,000-meter run, an event which she competed in at the 2008 regional.

A school record holder in the high jump, James recorded a top mark of 1.80 meters (5 feet, 10 3/4 inches) at the Beach Invitational on April 17. James, who tied for ninth in 2009 at the NCAA Regional, failed to improve upon 1.80 meters at the 2010 BIG EAST Outdoor Championships after injuring her ankle the previous week, but should be fully healthy by the Preliminary Round. She enters the meet 10th on the performance list in the region.

Thiel will also be making her second appearance after competing in 2008 at the Mid-East Regional. Thiel recorded a best distance of 14.96 meters (49, feet, 1 inch) at the SIU Spring Classic on March 26.

Rounding out the field on the women's side is junior Olivia Johnson in the 1,500 meters. In her second year at MU, Johnson moved up to the No. 4 spot in school history in the 1,500 with a time of 4:28.01 at the BIG EAST Outdoor Championships.

Bolgert's steeplechase time of 8:54.76 recorded at the BIG EAST Championships, is only one second off the MU record, a time which Bolgert will probably have to break to advance to the NCAA Championships. Johnson was the 48th and final athlete added to the steeplechase pool after a personal-best time of 9:05.30 at the North Central Dr. Keeler Invitational on May 14.

Szczech also recorded a personal best at the Dr. Keeler Invitational in the 10,000 meters with a time of 30:32.10, vaulting him onto the West Preliminary Round performance list at No. 40. 

After notching the second-best hammer throw distance in MU history behind Damian Anisko, Kluge will get another shot to break that mark in Austin. His top throw of the season, 56.49 meters, was recorded at the BIG EAST Championships where he finished fifth in the event.

Only the top-12 competitors in each event at the preliminary round will advance to the NCAA Championships on June  23 in Eugene, Ore.





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