Alyssa Abbott and the distance medley relay head to South Bend on Friday.
Feb. 29, 2012
SALT LAKE CITY- Four University of Utah student-athletes will head east on Friday for one final chance of earning an automatic bid to the NCAA Indoor Championships. The Utes will get action underway with the distance medley relay on Friday at 7:45 p.m. EST, at the Loftus Sports Center in South Bend, Ind.
"We are familiar with the set up at Notre Dame," Utah head coach Kyle Kepler said. "Based on the teams and athletes who are competing, this meet looks to provide the best competition for our relay and individual events, in regards to automatic qualifying marks."
The distance medley relay will feature senior Alyssa Abbott running the 1200m leg, Lauryn McKay in the 400m, Lucy Yates on the 800m third leg, and Amanda Mergaert on the final 1600m split of the race. Last year at Notre Dame, the Utes finished second setting a school-record time of 11:11.71. Unfortunately, the relay finished one spot shy in the national standings to earn an automatic NCAA Championships qualifying bid.
"The distance medley relay has barely missed the NCAA meet the last two years." Kepler said. "As a group, they believe that they can run and earn an automatic qualifying time. As coaches, we know they can and they deserve they that opportunity. If they can all put it together for 11 minutes on Friday night, we will qualify for the fastest distance medley relay field in NCAA history."
On Saturday, all four members of the distance medley relay will compete in individual events.
Entering the week, Mergaert ranks 20th in the country for her performance in the mile at last weekend's MPSF Championships. As a three-time NCAA qualifier, Mergaert has her work cut out as typically the NCAA accept the top 18 athletes in the country.
Yates will compete in the 800m, for the Utes. In 2010, Yates finished 23rd at the NCAA Outdoor Championships in the 800m. As a senior, Yates is determined to make one more appearance at the national meet as she strives to achieve All-American status.
Making her first appearance at the last chance qualifier meet, McKay is slated to compete in the 400m. McKay has improved on her 400m time at every meet this season. She enters the weekend with a season-best 400m time of 56.37.