A total of nine athletes represented UC Irvine men’s and women’s track and field at the NCAA West Preliminary Championships this past weekend (May 25-27) at the Mike A. Myers Stadium in Austin, Texas.
Of the nine Anteaters, senior Lloyd Sicard and sophomore Isaiah Jewett punched their tickets to the NCAA Championships at the historic Hayward Field in Eugene, Oregon after posting qualifying marks in the 110m hurdles and 800m, respectively.
The west prelims marked the final meet for three graduating seniors in Megan George, Brandon Howard, and Matt Seawright — each of whom leaves behind top 10 records in UCI’s program history and walks away with a number of individual accolades.
The NCAA Championships will commence on June 7 and conclude on June 10.
Senior Lloyd Sicard is headed for his third straight NCAA Championships after finishing second in his heat and fifth overall in the 110m hurdles on the final day of the West Prelims.
Clocking in at 13.60, Sicard matched his personal best as an Anteater, a feat that he had originally set in the NCAA west prelims back in 2015.
A day earlier, the Serra High product had posted one of his top three finishes on the year with a 13.61—which he had also registered at the Big West Championships to secure his third-straight title—in the opening round of the prelims to advance to the very quarterfinal final round that would go on to secure his spot to nationals.
His best time still stands from April 29 when he had recorded a wind-aided lifetime best of 13.55 at the adidas/Steve Scott Invitational.
While Sicard’s journey is far from over, he has had quite an illustrious career at UCI.
Having won the Big West title in the 110m hurdles a few weeks ago with a 13.61 second finish, what was his season best mark at the time, Sicard successfully defended his crown to become a three-time conference champion. He also took home all-conference honors for his involvement in first and second place finishes as a member of two different 4×100 relays.
His showing at this year’s west prelims marked his fourth consecutive appearance. He has made it to the national west prelims every year in his collegiate journey and has missed only one trip to nationals during his freshman campaign.
Sicard entered the highly successful weekend having already earned six individual victories in the 110m hurdles, placing either first or second in eight of his last nine runs.
Sophomore Isaiah Jewett made the most out of his first trip to the NCAA west prelims, elongating his magical second-year campaign by qualifying for his first ever NCAA Championships in the 800m Friday evening.
Jewett earned an automatic bid with a second place finish in Heat 3 and 10th overall in the event. His time at 1:48.40 was just .18 seconds shy of eclipsing his personal-best at 1:48.22, which he had locked in during the adidas/Steve Scott Invitational last month.
Jewett was one of the first Anteaters to begin his journey at the prelims Thursday evening when he also registered a second place finish in Heat 3 to qualify for the quarterfinals. Pulling in at 1:50.64, Jewett was 13th overall among 48 other competitors.
Having earned his trip to Eugene, Jewett is now the first to represent UCI in the 800m since former NCAA champion and 2016 Olympian Charles Jock did so five years ago. Jewett bested Jock for the crown at the same adidas/Steve Scott Invitational where the Inglewood, California native had originally set his personal best.
Prior to his showing at the national west prelims, Jewett had won five of six 800m finals races. He had also received four Big West Track Athlete of the Week nods in just this season alone.
The 2016-2017 campaign marks the first time Jewett has ever competed in the 800m.
Sicard, who had finished his final 110m hurdle run two hours prior, and Jewett joined sophomore Paul Resong, and senior Brandon Howard for the 4×400 relay Saturday.
While the team did not finish in the top 3 from each heat nor did they finish in the next best three slots, the quartet still managed to raise three spots from their 23rd ranking for 20th with a 3:10.00.
The time was the second best the team had posted since they captured the Big West title, UCI’s first since 2012, with their season best 2:09.19.
Saturday’s 4×100 relay marked the final collegiate run for Howard, who put up a strong attempt at qualifying for the championships in the 400m hurdles Thursday when he came away with a sixth place finish in his heat and 35th overall. His time at 52.84 seconds was his fourth fastest run this season, but was not enough for the San Diego native to advance to Eugene.
Howard will depart UCI ranking fifth in the 400m hurdles with a lifetime-best 51.61, a time he had set at the adidas/Steve Scott Invitational.
Before the west prelims, Sicard, Resong, Howard, and Jewett finished the regular season with five victories, which was capped off by the Big West title.
Out on the field Thursday, senior Matt Seawright put up a solid effort in what would become his last showing in a collegiate hammer throw event, tossing out a mark of 207-11 for 18th place among a field of 48. The Long Beach native also managed to draw a fourth place finish in the second flight of the event.
Seawright returned to the Mike A. Myers Stadium Saturday, where he finished 39th in the discus with a mark of 168-04.
With the top 12 competitors earning a trip to the championships however, Seawright fell out of contention in his attempts to snag a bid to Eugene.
A transfer from Cerritos Community College, Seawright strung together an impressive run during his two-year stint as an Anteater. In the school record books, Seawright ranks third in the hammer throw (210-11), fourth in the discus (183-04), and eighth in the shot put (54-06), all of which are lifetime bests.
He will leave UCI as a three-time All Big West performer and a two-time NCAA west prelim qualifier as his appearance in this year’s west prelims marked his second straight showing.
Senior Megan George soared through the finish line in 13.39 seconds in the 100m hurdles—her fourth fastest time on the year—for a 20th place finish at the west prelims Saturday, but the time fell out of the top-12 required to advance to Eugene.
Junior Tyra Jones also competed in the 100m hurdles, but did not complete the race. Jones had an impressive run at the Big West Championships where she emerged with a 13.38 second finish in the event to secure her spot in the west prelims. The time is currently the second best in UCI’s program history and third in the conference.
On Friday, George was one of the 24 runners to move out of the first round with a fifth place finish in her heat (18th overall) courtesy of a 13.45 second sprint.
Saturday’s run effectively marked the last for George in what has turned out to be quite a distinguished collegiate career.
The Serra High product has set the standard high for UCI’s program, holding the top mark in four school records in the 100m hurdles (13.28), 4×100 relay (44.51), 4×400 relay (3:42.57) and indoor 60m hurdles (8.44).
George became a three-time Big West champion, one of just four in her conference, in the 100m hurdles two weeks ago with a 13.43 second finish. Her appearance in the west prelims on the weekend was her third in her four-year tenure at UCI.
In the 2016-2017 campaign alone, George had at least cracked the top 5 in nine races, winning four individual runs.
Junior Persis William-Mensah fell just two-hundredths of a second short of reaching the quarterfinal round of the 100m in the NCAA west prelims Thursday.
William-Mensah blitzed in at 11.43 seconds, enough for fifth in her heat and 26th overall.
Following a notable summer where she competed as a member of Ghana’s 4×100 relay team at the 2016 Olympic games in Rio de Janeiro, the Costa Mesa, California native posted a handful of new personal records.
At the Modo Challenge back in early April, William-Mensah eclipsed her UCI record with a wind-legal career-best 11.57 in the 100m.
At the Big West Championships, William-Mensah came up with a second place finish for the second consecutive time in the respective event and picked up all-conference honors in a 4×100 relay team that captured third.
She had also put up five wind-assisted sub-11.50 performances and had picked up five individual victories on the year.
Out in the field, sophomore Barbara Coward tossed out a 163.02 in her final try in the discus, enough place 28th in a field of 48.
While the mark had carried her up 14 slots, the effort was not enough to propel her into the top-12 that would go on to qualify for the NCAA championships.
Coward had a stunning sophomore campaign, garnering consecutive Big West Athlete of the Week nods for breaking her own record at the All-UC Challenge at La Jolla, California and at the Ben Brown Invitational in Fullerton, California, back-to-back meets to start the year.
On the year, Coward tossed out marks over 174 in nine of 10 meets on the season, taking first in five of those 10. She also currently holds the school record with her personal best throw at 180-08.
The future proves to be promising for the Atwater, California native as her showing at the west prelims was her second straight of her young collegiate career.