June 11, 2009
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. - University of New Mexico seniors Katie Coronado and Anthony Fairbanks both qualified for Friday's javelin finals on a weather-marred opening day of competition at the NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships. Athletes were forced to endure a three-hour rain and lightning delay at the height of the preliminary round action, pushing the schedule back to well past midnight.
The weather delay occurred just minutes before Lobo senior Jarrin Solomon was slated to take the track for the first round of qualifying in the 400 meters at 7:15 p.m. local time. Solomon wasn't allowed to return to the soggy track until 10:30 and was eliminated after finishing fourth in his heat with a time of 46.70. The 2009 indoor All-American was 0.07 seconds behind Texas A&M's Justin Oliver, who captured the third and final automatic qualifying spot in the heat.
Originally scheduled to run at 8:25 local time, juniors Rory Fraser and Jacob Kirwa didn't take the track for the 5,000-meter semifinals until 12:40 a.m. Kirwa finished 18th (14:09.45), but was five seconds shy of a spot in the event finals. Fraser was 26th (14:46.51).
Fairbanks, however, displayed great resiliency in his late night javelin performance. The Albuquerque Highland product was on the outside looking in through the first two rounds of his NCAA Championships debut before a clutch throw of 222' 11" (67.96m) on his final attempt.
Seeded 15th entering the meet, Fairbanks became the first Lobo to qualify for the NCAA finals in the men's javelin since Ake Nilsson in 1968. The 12-man finals will be held at 6:30 p.m. (Mountain time) on Friday during the CBS College Sports live television window.
Coronado was the lone Lobo to complete competition before the weather delay, punching her ticket to the women's javelin finals with a mark of 168' (51.20m) on her second throw. The 2008 NCAA javelin runner-up will look for her second All-America award at 4:30 p.m. (Mountain) on Friday.
Six more Lobos begin competition today, including 2009 NCAA Indoor mile champion Lee Emanuel in the men's 1,500 semifinals at 4:30 p.m. (Mountain). Junior Ashley Gibson will run the women's 1,500 semis at 3:55 before juniors Nicky Archer and Michelle Corrigan run the 10,000 finals at 7:40 (Mountain). Senior Mat Ashton and junior Chris Barnicle cap the evening in the men's 10K finals at 8:45 (Mountain).
Unfortunately, the weather forecast remains the same for day two with strong storm clouds expected to roll into Fayetteville later this evening bringing lighting, rain, and even hail. Check back to NCAA.com for official updates on any weather delays and rescheduled events.