NATCHITOCHES – Returning All-Americans George Flaviano, Amir James, Micah Larkins and Ty Shilling top Northwestern State’s list of a dozen qualifiers in 14 events for next week’s NCAA East Preliminary Round Track and Field Championships in Lexington, Ky.
The NCAA announced Thursday the list of qualifiers in each event. Competition begins next Thursday and wraps up next Saturday evening. The East region essentially includes all Division I programs east of, or near, the Mississippi River. Southland Conference members from Texas who have qualifiers compete in the West regional.
Seven male competitors and five women will comprise the NSU entries for the East Preliminary Round. Marks ranking in the region’s top 48, 24 for relay teams, qualified for next week’s competition. The top 12 individual finishers and relay teams advance to the NCAA Outdoor Championships in Eugene, Ore., at historic Hayward Field June 7-10.
NSU’s returning All-Americans earned that distinction last year with a 15th-place finish at the national meet.
Flaviano, James and Larkins also qualified for the regional competition in their individual specialties. James and Larkins are qualified in both short sprints, the 100 and 200, although Larkins will withdraw from the 200 field to focus on the 4×100 and the 100 dash.
James and Larkins also earned honorable mention All-America honors last year in the 100.
They are among six NSU athletes, including Flaviano, who qualified for the East round in two events.
The Lady Demons will have two entries in both the 200 and 400 meter dashes, junior De’Shalyn Jones and freshman Natashia Jackson.
Demons’ thrower Kyrin Turner, a junior, earned a trip to Lexington in the shot put and discus.
Other Lady Demon qualifiers are Braneshia Payton in the 100 meter hurdles, Quanese Jones-Young in the high jump and Kelsey Frank in the javelin.
The Demons’ other entry is sophomore Ceasar Stephens in the triple jump. Terrence Johnson will be the alternate for the 4×100 relay team.
The Lady Demons’ 4×100 and 4×400 relay teams barely missed the cut to qualify. The 4×400 team’s mark of 3:39.16 was 0.01 away from making the field.
James’ 11th-ranked 20.56 time in the 200 is the highest-ranked performance by an NSU competitor regionally. James, a junior, and sophomore Larkins each have 10.20 best marks this spring in the 100 and are ranked 13th in that 48-sprinter field.
Flaviano, a senior, has a 51.06 time that stands 13th in the 400 meter hurdles field. The Demons’ 4×100 best mark of 39.92 is 15th.
Jones, who won four gold medals (100, 200, 4×100 relay and 4×400) at last weekend’s Southland Conference Outdoors, is seeded 21st in the 200 (23.12). She ranks 32nd in the 400 (53.61).
Jackson, one of only 10 freshmen to reach the East prelims in the 200, is seeded 47th with a 23.68 time. She is among 17 classmates in the 400, ranking 43rd overall at 43.85, which won her the Southland Conference title last weekend.
Stephens’ triple jump best of 50-10 ¾ ranks 35th. Tucker is 35th in the shot put (58-2 ½) and 48th (174-9).
Payton, a junior, is 35th in the women’s 110 hurdles with her 13.51 best mark. Jones-Young, a junior, ranks 35th with a 5-8 clearance. Frank, a junior, is 31st with her winning 156-3 last week at the Southland Outdoors.