EUGENE, Ore. – WKU senior sprinter Elvyonn Bailey split 44.96 seconds in the final 400 meters of the Hilltoppers’ 4x400-meter relay on Thursday at the NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships to spark WKU’s fourth-place finish and first-ever trip to championship finals at Oregon’s Hayward Field.
Bailey’s 400-meter split was the second fastest among the 24 sprinters anchoring relays in Thursday’s semifinals and was one of four sub-45 second splits in the entire field. Senior Chris Chamness and freshmen Emmanuel Dasor and Ventavius Sears joined Bailey, the 2014 Southeast Region Men’s Track Athlete of the Year, on the relay that clocked the second fastest time in school history at 3:03.94. The quartet set the program record with a time of 3:03.02 at the NCAA East Preliminaries on May 29.
“This is a major accomplishment for WKU,” said head coach Erik Jenkins. “Never in school history have we qualified as many relays for the NCAA Championship meet and to have two advance to the finals is outstanding. We have been anle to line up and compete against some major BCS programs in the country. Qualifying a relay team means that you have four extremely talented individuals competing for one common purpose.”
WKU enters Saturday’s finals seeded fourth behind Texas A&M, LSU and Nebraska. The Hilltoppers other competitors in the finals will be Florida, Arkansas, Arizona State and Baylor. The 4x400 will be the final men’s event of the 2014 NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships Saturday at 5:47 p.m. (CT).
Bailey, Dasor and Sears also make up three legs of WKU’s 4x100-meter relay that qualified for Saturday’s championship finals for the first time in program history. Prior to this season, no WKU relay had ever advanced past the semifinal round at the NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships. The Hilltoppers accomplished the feat in back-to-back nights in Eugene this week.
WKU joins Texas A&M, LSU, Florida and Arizona State as the only men’s programs in the nation to qualify for finals in both the 4x100 and 4x400 relays. The Hilltoppers are seeded fourth entering Saturday’s finals in the 4x400 and fifth in the 4x100, ensuring First Team All-American status.
“This group deserves a lot of credit for their efforts representing WKU at the highest level of Division I Track and Field,” said Jenkins. “Their qualification for the relay finals would be similar to earning the right to competing in the BCS Championship Game for football or the NCAA Championship Final in basketball.”
For the Lady Toppers, senior thrower Jessica Ramsey finished 24th in the discus throw with a toss of 151’8 (46.24m). After fouling on her first toss, Ramsey responded with a mark of 151’8 to garner Honorable Mention All-American honors.
France Makabu, a senior jumper, will be WKU’s lone competitor during Friday’s events as she competes in the triple jump at 5:25 (CT). Makabu is seeded 14th in the event at 42’10.75 (13.07m). Ramsey (shot put), Tomas Guerra (javelin) and the Hilltoppers’ relays will conclude competition for WKU at the NCAA Championships on Saturday afternoon.
For more information on WKU Track and Field, follow the program on Twitter at @WKUTrackField or visit WKUSports.com.