The Syracuse Orange track and field teams have the opportunity this week to earn their way to the NCAA Outdoor Championships in Eugene, Oregon. There will be two regional meets held this week and in each event, 12 athletes from the 48 event qualifiers in each region will advance to Eugene. Syracuse has several strong candidates to advancebut let’s look at each of the regional qualifiers who will compete in Tampa this week starting with the women.
Imani Clark has the 31st fastest time in the field with her 11.44 which is .2 seconds behind the 12th fastest time. In her freshman year, Clark has no pressure and we’ll see if she can deliver her best performances this week.
Clark is also entered in this event with the 46th fastest time (23.58), along with Sophomore Dasia Pressley who grabbed the final qualifying spot with her (23.61). Clark and Pressley have a bright future leading the Orange sprint group.
Kadejhia Sellers (53.67) grabbed one of the final spots in a loaded 400m field. Sellers will need to deliver an outstanding performance to crack the top 12 this week.
Last year Tia Thevenin ran personal best times to qualify for Eugene. She’s back with the 31st fastest time (13.38) and hoping to repeat last year’s racing this week.
Paige Stoner has the top time in the field (and 3rd fastest nationally) with her 9:50.42. Stoner’s looking to earn First-Team All-America honors for all three seasons as she continues the best year by a women’s distance runner in Orange history. Sydney Leiher enters with the 43rd fastest time (10:27.20) so we’ll see if she can keep her Syracuse career active for one more meet.
Here’s where the Orange men stand heading into the meet:
Four athletes qualified for this event as the HurdleCuse tradition continues to produce. Angelo Goss has the 15th fastest seed time (13.72), Matt Moore is 22nd (13.84), Richard Floyd is 31st (13.97) and David Gilstrap has the final qualifying spot (14.07). Goss and Moore have NCAA experience and it will be up to them to step up their performances a little bit this week.
Aidan Tooker (8:45.79) and Noah Affolder (8:46.22) are 2nd and 3rd on the qualifying list. Tooker’s looking to get back to Eugene for the 2nd year while Affolder’s delivering on the promise he showed in high school. These guys are likely to be heard from a lot during their Syracuse careers and they could be ready to make a statement here.
Justyn Knight has the top seed time (13:18.74) in the Nation this season and he’ll be looking to get back to Eugene with a chance of winning his 3rd National title of the year. Knight should be able to qualify without running all out this week, but look for him to stay near the front and away from trouble. Philo Germano has been to Eugene once and he’d like to finsh his Syracuse career there. Germano’s got the 10th fastest seed time (13:50.48) entering the meet and he’s displayed strong speed this year and should be ready for the way these races close.
Syracuse has five of the entrants in this event. Colin Bennie leads the way with the 5th fastest seed (28:37.04) and Bennie has been through this before so he knows what it takes to make it through. Iliass Aouani is coming off an outstanding ACC Championships and he has the 13th seeded time (29:19.43). Dom Hockenbury (seeded 25th in 29:36.64), Kevin James (seeded 38th in 29:48.88) and Joe Dragon (seeded 45th in 29:55.25) might be a year away from contention but they will continue to gain experience challenging themselves in these meets.
It’s possible that Syracuse could send at least seven athletes through to Eugene. While Knight and Stoner have deservedly garnered most of the attention, it’s been a strong outdoor season for the Orange. Competition begins on Thursday afternoon and you can follow live results here.