Utah Valley University will send six track and field athletes to Fayetteville, Arkansas, for this weekend's 2014 NCAA Division I Men's and Women's Outdoor Track and Field Preliminary Championships. The NCAA West Prelims will run Thursday through Saturday at the University of Arkansas' John McDonnell Field.
Of the six Wolverines, three will be making their second trip to the NCAA's. Senior Brooke Hodson-Davies — the lone female of the group — as well as junior Michael McPherson and redshirt sophomore Trac Norris will compete at the second NCAA Prelims of their careers this weekend, while sophomore Scott Moake and freshmen Kyler Sprague and Ryle Williams will make their first appearances.
Fellow distance runners Hodson-Davies and Norris will compete in the 3000-meter steeplechase, while jumpers Moake and Williams will each take part in the men's high jump. McPherson and Sprague round out the group and will compete in the long jump and 400m hurdles, respectively.
The hurdler Sprague will be the first UVU track athlete to compete on the weekend, as he'll take part in the men's 400m hurdles on Thursday at 4:30 p.m. CT. McPherson will then follow two hours later in men's long jump, while the other four Wolverines will compete Friday. Moake and Williams will each take part in the high jump at 5 p.m. CT, while Norris will run the men's steeplechase on Friday under the lights at 8:50, and Hodson-Davies will follow in the women's steeplechase at 9:30.
Williams will take the highest national ranking to the preliminaries with him, as he'll enter the competition ranked 34th in the nation in the high jump (2.15m). Sprague is next as he clocks in 65th nationally in the hurdles (51.70), while Moake is 76th in the high jump (2.10m), McPherson 78th in the long jump (7.45m), Norris 88th in the men's steeplechase (8:59.94) and Hodson-Davies 89th in the women's steeplechase (10:27.98).
McPherson, who broke the school record in the decathlon by winning the event with 7,401 points just two weeks ago at the WAC Championships, has also secured a spot for the NCAA Championships in the decathlon. The junior multi-event specialist, who is currently ranked 20th nationally in the decathlon, becomes UVU's first track athlete to earn a guaranteed spot in the finals — held June 11-14 in Eugene, Oregon.
The six qualifiers ties a program record and is the most UVU has sent to the NCAA Prelims sent since the 2010 season. Last year, five Wolverines appeared at the West Regional that was held at the University of Texas.
UVU's schedule of events
Kyler Sprague — 400m hurdles, Thursday at 4:30 p.m. CT
Michael McPherson — long jump, Thursday at 6:30 p.m. CT
Trac Norris — 3000m steeplechase, Friday at 8:50 p.m. CT
Brooke Hodson-Davies — 3000m steeplechase, Friday at 9:30 p.m. CT
James Warnick is an assistant sports information director at Utah Valley University. For more information about Wolverine athletics, visit www.WolverineGreen.com.