It has been a record-setting year for the Utah Valley University track and field team.
The Wolverines will send two women to the NCAA Track and Field Championships in Eugene, Oregon, this week, the first time a female athlete from the Orem school will compete at nationals, let alone two.
Also, two men advanced out of the West Preliminaries in Fayetteville, Arkansas, on May 26, making this the largest contingent of UVU athletes competing in nationals in program history. Utah Valley sent nine athletes to the preliminaries, which was also a program record.
Everlyn Kemboi and Hannah Branch qualified in the women’s 10K, while Aaron Johnson qualified in the long jump and Adam Bunker punched his ticket in the 3,000-meter steeplechase.
Nationals begin Wednesday at Hayward Field and run through Saturday.
In the prelims, Kemboi finished fifth despite tripping and falling with a little more than two laps to go. She posted a time of 33 minutes, 42.57 seconds. A junior, Kemboi is from Kenya.
“I’m feeling so happy,” Kemboi said in a school news release. “I cannot even believe it but I am so happy for myself, for my school, our coaches, and all the support they’ve given us.”
Branch is a senior from Draper’s Corner Canyon High.
Bunker, a freshman from Monticello, set a school record and claimed the 12th and final qualifying spot in the steeplechase on May 28.
Johnson, from Las Vegas, recorded the fifth best long jump in Arkansas to qualify.
“It means a lot to me,” Johnson said. “Throughout the entire season, I talked to coach about goals, and things we feel like we can accomplish, and now to be able to accomplish that goal, and move forward, means a lot.”
Southern Utah’s sensational senior
Southern Utah will send one athlete to Eugene, as senior Elizabeth White qualified in the women’s long jump with a leap of 20 feet, 6 1/2 inches. The Las Vegas product is the first long jumper in SUU history to qualify for nationals. She placed 10th in Arkansas.
The Thunderbirds sent nine athletes to Fayetteville, but only White advanced to nationals. The nationals-qualifying jump was the second-best of her career.
Aggies, Wildcats shut out of nationals
Utah State sent 11 student-athletes to the West Preliminaries, but none were able to advance. Weber State had two athletes qualify, but none advanced.