Headlined by senior Jason Lynch's dual-event qualification, Utah Valley men's and women's track and field will have three athletes competing in the 2017 NCAA West Preliminary competitions in Austin, Texas, as announced Thursday by the NCAA Men's and Women's Track and Field Committee.
Along with Lynch, senior hurdler Cole Eisenhour and junior sprinter Alena Gillespie each landed spots for the Wolverines in the NCAA West Preliminaries held May 25-27, at the University of Texas.
"We're excited to have our guys and girls qualify again," said Utah Valley head coach Scott Houle. "We have three great kids going to represent our program. This is a big accomplishment for them to qualify for this meet, considering there are 305 Division I programs and they only select the top 48, so I'm proud to see them have this opportunity."
Lynch earns a trip to the preliminary rounds for the second time in his career with top-48 marks in the men's 5,000-meter (44th) and 10,000-meter (47th). During the 2017 outdoor season, Lynch became UVU's record holder and Western Athletic Conference champion in the 5K (14:04.13) and 10K (29:38.75).
"Jason has made a name for himself in the distance events at the NCAA level. He will be representing UVU in two events, which is pretty tough to do," said Houle. "It shows not only how good of a runner he is, but also how committed and mentally tough he is to qualify in the 10,000-meter and 5,000-meter."
Meanwhile, Eisenhour secured a top-48 time in the region in the 110-meter hurdles (43rd) to earn a preliminary trip for the third-straight year. Eisenhour, who holds the program record in the 110-hurdles, posted a season-best time of 14.22 seconds at the WAC Championships.
"We're excited to see how Cole does again this year. I do believe that he's gotten better and stronger, and that he'll be able to represent UVU well," said Houle
Representing the UVU women's squad, Gillespie claims her first career preliminary qualification in the 200-meter dash after finishing the season ranked 43rd in the West Region. Gillespie recently repeated as the WAC 200-meter champion after posting a program record of 23.60 seconds.
"Alena has really made her mark for UVU and at the college level, and continues to improve," Houle said. "This is her first time going and we can't wait to see how she competes there. She's the type of girl that will rise to the occasion and always gets better when the competition does, so I'm excited for her and proud of her efforts."
The Wolverine trio is part of 16 athletes from the WAC selected to participate at the preliminary meet. Utah Valley qualified the second most athletes in the WAC, behind only WAC Men's and Women's Outdoor Track and Field Champion UMKC with six.
To qualify for an NCAA Preliminary, an athlete must be among the top 48 in his or her region in an individual event or the top 24 in any of the relay events. The top-12 finishers for each event at the NCAA West Preliminaries will advance to the NCAA Division I Men's and Women's Outdoor Track and Field Championships held June 7-10, in Eugene, Oregon.