FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — Led by senior thrower Emily Hunsucker, on the final day of the NCAA Outdoor Track West Preliminaries four more University of Colorado performers joined three others who previously qualified in earning a trip to the NCAA Championships in two weeks.
Hunsucker started the day on a good note for the Buffaloes, and sophomore Carrie Verdon ended it on the same, with some success and disappointment in-between.
Hunsucker performed as advertised and then some in the hammer throw. Coming in as the No. 3 seed, she registered a throw of 210-feet, 1-inch on her very first effort of the day, a distance that stood as the best for the remainder of the event.
Hunsucker will be looking to improve upon her ninth place finish in the 2013 championships, which earned her second-team All-America honors.
"It was a really interesting day," said Casey Malone, CU's assistant who coaches the throw athletes. "Our goal going into it was essentially to have her throw a mark early that would get her through into the finals. Our hopes coming in here were that she could have a high level and consistent type of performance, which is what you need at the NCAA Championships. So this served as the perfect warm-up and a great trial run."
"It's a great sign for where Emily is currently at in both her training and her mentality," he added.
Hunsucker was a little astonished that her first throw would be the best of the day in the 48-woman field.
"I was surprised (that it held up)," she said. "The way the draw worked, I was in the first couple of throwers, so knowing where you are and coming out and throwing that distance first might have shaken up the competition. I was actually a little disappointed that I didn't throw better than that, but I'll have another chance at the NCAA's."
In the men's 1,500 meter run, both junior Jake Hurysz and freshman Ben Saarel advanced out of the quarterfinal heats to Eugene.
Saarel's ran in the first heat, which would see the top seven finishers separated by less than two seconds. Saarel finished third with a time of 3:45.58.
Hurysz finished fifth in the second heat in 3:41.75, which was run at a bit of a quicker pace than the first. His time was also fifth overall while Saarel's was 12th.
Sophomore Pierce Murphy, who missed qualifying for the 10,000 by one spot on Thursday, got a second dose of similar disappointment Saturday in the 5,000-meter run. He finished sixth in the first heat, one spot out of automatically qualifying, with a 14:20.81 time.