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LBSU Track & Field Heads to Texas for NCAA West Preliminary Rounds

Freshman Willie Alexander enters the NCAA West Preliminaries seeded ninth in the triple jump.

May 21, 2013

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LONG BEACH - The Long Beach State track & field team has 16 athletes entered in 11 events at the NCAA West Preliminaries, which will be held in Austin, Texas, May 23-25.

The NCAA West Preliminary Rounds return to the University of Texas at Austin for the second-straight year. The meet will be held at Mike A. Myers Stadium from Thursday through Saturday. The top-12 finishers in each event advance to the NCAA Championships in Eugene, Ore. (June 5-8).

In the sprints, hurdles and 800-meter run, the top-three from six first round heats, plus the next six fastest times advance to the quarterfinals. In the 1500m, the top-five from four first round heats, plus the next four fastest times advance to the quarterfinals. The top-12 in each quarterfinal will then punch their tickets to the NCAA Championships. In the 5000m, the top-five from both heats, plus the next three fastest times qualify for the NCAA meet.

The 49ers had 16 athletes rank among the West Region's top-48 to qualify for the NCAA West Preliminaries. Willie Alexander (Long Jump, Triple Jump) and Jacob Fraser (Shot Put, Discus) lead the way as Long Beach State's multi-event qualifiers. Also advancing to the postseason are Big West champions Josh Villalobos (Hammer), Gabe Hilbert (800m) and Davon Wilson-Angel (110m Hurdles). Joining Wilson-Angel in the high hurdles will be Koree Hines and Devin Hickey. Hines is now a three-time NCAA West Regional qualifier. In addition, Cameron Glasgow (400m), Chris Enriquez (5000m), Michael Vaughan (Triple Jump), Chris Yates (Shot Put), Jason Harrell (Discus) and Joel Baez (Hammer) will be competing this week. On the women's side, Emily Cooper (200m), Meghan Foley (1500m) and Taylor Jackson (Long Jump) qualified for the West Prelims. Foley established a school-record 4:23.55 in the 1500m, while Cooper and Jackson also rank among LBSU's all-time top-10.

Of the nine schools representing the Big West at the NCAA West Prelims, Long Beach State and UC Davis have the largest contingents with 16 participants each. LBSU also leads the conference on the men's side with 13 qualifiers.

The Long Beach State men recently won their fourth Big West title (2006, 2008, 2011, 2013) in the last eight years. The 49ers had 15 all-conference performances, including four individual champions. On the track, Gabe Hilbert finished ahead of the pack in the 800m, while Davon Wilson-Angel took top honors in the 110m hurdles. Josh Villalobos also won the hammer and Jacob Fraser was victorious in the discus. The men totaled 176.5 points to finish with a comfortable 24.5-point lead over UC Santa Barbara.

Long Beach State claimed two major Big West Track & Field awards as Andy Sythe was named the Men's Coach of the Year and Willie Alexander garnered Men's Freshman of the Year honors the conference office announced last week.

Alexander was an All-Big West performer in both the triple jump and long jump at the conference championships. On the first day of the meet, he had a third-place finish in the long jump with a personal-record 24-07.25, which ranks sixth among all freshmen in the country. The Fresno, Calif., native came back the next day to top his lifetime best by over three feet in the triple jump, earning him runner-up honors. Alexander's leap of 52-02.75 is tied for sixth in school history, is ninth in the West Region and 12th in the nation.

Sythe received his fourth Big West Men's Track & Field Coach of the Year award after leading the 49ers to their seventh conference title and fourth in the last eight years. Under Sythe's tutelage, Long Beach State has produced 11 Big West Athletes of the Year and claimed four Big West Freshman of the Year accolades.

Junior Meghan Foley established Long Beach State's first school record of the 2013 outdoor season as she crossed the finish line in 4:23.55 to place second in the 1500m at the Steve Scott Invitational on April 28. The Huntington Beach native bettered her lifetime best by 5.17 seconds and topped LBSU's previous record, which was held by Rosa Del Toro, by 1.42 seconds. Foley ranks fifth in the Big West.

In the 49ers' final meet before the Big West Championships, senior Gabe Hilbert established the top 800m time in the conference. He clocked in with a then season-best 1:49.70 to finish second overall at the Steve Scott Invitational, earning him Big West Men's Track Athlete of the Week honors. Two weeks later, Hilbert topped that performance as he established a personal-record 1:48.99 to win the 800m at the conference meet. Hilbert moved up two spots to No. 4 on LBSU's all-time list.

Redshirt freshman Chris Enriquez was named the Big West Men's Track Athlete of the Week for his performance in the 5000m at the Mt. SAC Relays on April 19. Enriquez shaved 17 seconds off his lifetime best to finish third in the Open "B" Division at 14:12.89. His mark ranks fourth in school history and is No. 1 in the Big West this year.

Senior co-captain Michael Vaughan has been one of the top collegiate triple jumpers this year. The Rosamond, Calif., native established a personal-record 51-07.25 in the season opener at the Beach Classic (March 3), earning him Big West Men's Field Athlete of the Week honors. Vaughan's mark is tied for eighth in school history, ranks third in the Big West, 12th in the West Region and 22nd in the nation.

The Long Beach State men's throws squad has been dominant in the Big West in recent years and 2013 has been no different as a 49er owns the top mark in the conference in three of the four throwing events. Adam Bianchessi (javelin, 223-07), Jason Harrell (discus, 180-05) and Joel Baez (hammer, 193-07) all lead the Big West, while senior co-captain Chris Yates, a two-time Big West Men's Field Athlete of the Week honoree, is second in the shot put (59-01.25) and hammer (191-06). In addition, Jacob Fraser ranks second in the discus and Josh Villalobos is second in the hammer. Fraser, Baez, Harrell, Villalobos and Yates will be competing in the NCAA West Prelims this week. Bianchessi would have also qualified, but he suffered a season-ending injury at the Cal-Nevada Championships (March 29-30).

Sophomore Emily Cooper, who garnered All-Big West honors in the 100m and 200m last year, has continued to lead the way for LBSU's women's sprints squad. The Folsom, Calif., native is among the top-10 in the Big West in the 100m (6th, 11.76) and 200m (6th, 23.92). Both marks are personal bests and rank fourth and fifth, respectively, in 49er history. Cooper also garnered all-conference honors this year as a member of the 4x400 relay team that established a school-record 3:41.24.

Long Beach State holds the top-three 110m hurdle marks in the Big West this season. Junior Davon Wilson-Angel established a lifetime-best 13.98 to win the event at the conference championships. Freshman Devin Hickey was the runner-up with a personal-record 14.20, while junior Koree Hines also notched a personal-best 14.21 at the Beach Classic. Wilson-Angel is tied for third in program history, while Hickey is tied for 10th.

The NCAA Outdoor Championships will be held in Eugene, Ore., June 5-8.



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