May 27, 2011

Grace Punches Ticket to NCAA Nationals with Style

School Record in the 800-Meter Run

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. – All-American senior Kate Grace qualified for the NCAA National Championship today by finishing first in her heat during the semi-finals of the 800-meter run at the First Round meet. Grace's time of 2:03.41 is not only a school record outdoors, but it was also the fastest time of the meet by more than a second. By virtue of her place, she automatically advances to the national meet hosted by Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa, on June 8-11.

Grace was the only athlete at the meet to run under 2:04 on either day. Though she has struggled in the past to run faster splits on the second consecutive day of intense competition, her split today was five seconds faster than her performance yesterday.

For this, she credits her efforts running the 1,500-meter run as well as the 800-meter run at a single meet several times during the season: "I think that all of the 1,500-meter runs this year have been very helpful with doubling [events] and with doing strong on the last 200 meters. I think all of the doubling has given me a lot of confidence that I'd be able to do back-to-back days with some pretty fast times," she said.

Despite illness earlier in the season, Grace has staged a comeback, running her fastest time ever outdoors. Her previous school record was 2:04.22, set at last year's edition of the NCAA First Round.

"I'm really thankful that it's all coming together," commented Grace. "I'm not taking for granted being healthy right now. I wasn't healthy all season this year, so it's great that this is all working out. I feel very strong and it's great to have that show in the results."

Her race tonight also earned her another slice of Ivy glory to add to her three consecutive titles in the 800-meter run at Heps. Grace is now the conference's fourth-fastest athlete in the event after overtaking Lauren Simmons of Princeton. Meredith Rainey of Harvard has held the top slot since 1990, with a blazing time of 1:59.73.

Grace's time is the fifth-fastest to be run in the country all season, including performances today at the West's First Rounds in Eugene, Oregon.  She and the rest of the qualifiers from both meets will convene at Des Moines, Iowa, next month to compete for the NCAA title. Results from the west preliminary are available here. Full results from today's events are available here. Grace will return to cheer on sophomore teammates Nihal Kayali and Elizabeth Marvin tomorrow in the final day of competition. Live results and video are available on the meet website.

Report by Natalie Villa '13, Yale Sports Publicity