Sophomore Runs a Personal Best in 800-meter Run
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. - The NCAA Track and Field Championships opened with huge crowds on Wednesday at the University of Arkansas' John McDonnell Field, and the Bulldogs were not left out. Yale sophomore Kate Grace (Los Angeles, Calif.), an All-American in the 800-meter run indoors this winter, is on her way to earning that honor outdoors as well. Grace passed through the preliminary round of the Championships with an outdoor personal best that placed her 16th among the 27 competitors and earned her a seat in Thursday's semifinals.
Grace excels at rising to the higher level of competition provided at the NCAA Championships. She placed fourth in her heat, and her 2:05.82 finish is a personal record by a quite a bit. Her previous best was 2:06.69 - a good .73 seconds slower - which she ran in the preliminary round at Regionals.
Grace was ranked 21st going into the competition, and it is impressive to move up to 16th on the first day. It was a tough race; she was running in last place until the final 200 meters, when she picked off two of the women in front of her and sped in to the finish line to qualify for the semifinals.
Grace competed in the third of four heats on Wednesday afternoon. The top 18 runners qualified for the semifinals - the top three finishers in each heat plus the next four fastest runners. All of the heats posted much faster times than were seen at the East Regional Championships a week and a half ago.
The fastest times of the day were posted by Tennessee junior Phoebe Wright (2:04.86) and Michigan senior Geena Gall (2:04.94), last year's champion.
Grace is encroaching upon the school record of 2:05.08, which is currently held by Louise Gerritz '87. Grace already holds the school record in the 800-meter run indoors, which she broke and reset on her way to the indoor NCAA Championships in March; as it stands, her record is 2:04.72.
"I'm very excited," Grace said of her performance and of the semifinals. "It's on to the next one. I've already come farther than I did last year, and it was an outdoor PR, so it's very exciting. Hopefully tomorrow I can have another fast race."
Grace is competing in the semifinals on Thursday at 7:15 p.m. CT. In order to continue to the finals, she must finish in the top three of her heat or have one of the next two fastest times. The meet will be broadcast live at CBSSports.com and live results will be posted at FlashResults.com. Results will also be posted here at the end of the day.
Report by Kyle Eichner '12, Yale Sports Publicity