AUSTIN, Texas (WBKO) --- WKU Track & Field will send four performances – two individual and two relays – to the NCAA Outdoor Track & Field Championships to represent The Hill from June 5-8 in Austin, Texas. The 2019 championships mark the 13th-straight season that WKU has been represented on the biggest stage while the team has qualified both the men’s 4x100 and 4x400 relays each of the last five campaigns. Individually, Annastacia Forrester earned a trip to the Lone Star State in the women’s long jump while Kymari Gates will represent the Red and White in the men’s 400 meter along with both relays. All three days of championships will be available to live stream on ESPN, ESPNU or ESPN3.
Competition for the Hilltoppers from the Mike A. Myers Stadium on the campus of the University of Texas will open on Wednesday with a 4:32 p.m. CT gun for the men’s 4x100 meter relay prelims. WKU’s unit will run in the third and final heat of the event, seeking a top-two finish in its heat or one of the next two best times to advance to Friday’s finals.
The Hilltoppers' 4x100 relay unit punched the team's first of two tickets to the championships on Saturday of the East Prelims after running a season-best 39.22. While the mark ranked fourth in the third heat, the Red and White clinched the first non-automatic spot to the NCAA Championships with the overall eighth-best mark at the East Prelims. Hilltoppers running in the 4x100 relay were Will Bush, Martin Owusu-Antwi, Abdur Kelly and Gates.
At 6 p.m., Gates will compete in the first of three heats in the men’s 400-meter race. The Cincinnati, Ohio, native will be in the hunt for a top-two finish in his heat or one of the next two best marks to advance to Friday’s final. Gates ran a personal-best 45.83 to take third in his heat at the NCAA East Prelims and earn an automatic trip to Texas.
Concluding WKU’s Wednesday slate, the men’s 4x400-meter relay will begin at 7:48 p.m. with the Hilltoppers lining up in the second of three heats. Just as the 4x100 relay works, the WKU unit will be in search of a top-two finish in their heat or one of the next two best marks to advance to Friday’s final.
WKU's second NCAA Championships-qualifying performance of the final day of the East Prelims came in the men's 4x400-meter relay. The unit ran a mark of 3:04.09 to win its heat – clinching an automatic trip to nationals - and finish second overall at the East Prelims. Representing WKU in the 4x400 relay were Kelly, Owusu-Antwi, Duncan Agyemang and Gates.
The last time the WKU 4x400-meter relay qualified for the national championships during both the indoor and outdoor seasons was 2008.
WKU is one of just 10 programs in the country sending both its men’s 4x100 and 4x400 relays to the NCAA Outdoor Championships and one of just four non-Power 5 programs to do so. Also sending both relays are Arizona, Arkansas, Coppin State, Florida Kentucky, North Carolina A&T, Purdue, UCLA and UT Arlington.
On the women’s side, Forrester will begin action in the long jump at 8:30 p.m. on Thursday. The Lady Topper junior will compete from the second flight of the event’s finals after posting a personal-best 6.19 meters (20’ 3.75”) at the NCAA East Prelims to earn a trip to Austin.
Representatives from 142 different schools will participate in women's events, while 126 programs are represented in men's events. Click here for the complete list of participants and event schedule. Individual and relay event participants qualified for the national championships through preliminary events hosted May 23-25 in Florida and California. The top 48 individuals and top 24 relay teams first qualified for prelims.