May 30, 2009
Greensboro, N.C. - On the second and last day of the NCAA East Regional Championship, sophomore Kate Grace (Los Angeles, Calif.) raced into a third-place finish in the finals of the 800-meter run. The meet opened on Friday at North Carolina A&T State University in Greensboro, N.C. with preliminary heats for all of the top athletes from up and down the east coast. Grace's finish in the finals earns her an automatic ticket to the NCAA Championships in Fayetteville, Ark.
As the only Bulldog competing in the meet, Grace's six points were also the only ones scored for Yale; the team ended up tied for 31st among over 50 teams. Florida State was the big winner of the Championships with 71 points.
Grace finished her 800 meters in only 2:07.43. It was a tight race that had the top athletes crossing the finish line right on top of one another. Grace was only .37 seconds behind second-place Dominique Jackson of North Carolina (2:07.06), who was in turn a mere .11 seconds behind the first-place finisher, junior Pilar McShine of Florida State (2:06.55). McShine's preliminary time was just .11 seconds slower than Grace's.
The fourth- and fifth-place finishers were in turn right on Grace's heels; the Charlotte senior who finished .28 seconds behind her in the preliminary heat finished .22 seconds behind Grace in the finals (2:07.65), and a Seton Hall senior finished in 2:07.69.
Grace ran only .74 seconds slower than her preliminary time on Friday, which placed her at the top of the field. She was remarkably consistent for running at such a high level of competition for two days in a row, which was especially exciting for her because it has been something she has worked on.
Finishing third places her in good stead for the NCAA Championships in June. Grace certainly has the speed and endurance necessary to perform just as well as she did in March at the indoor NCAA Championships, when she was awarded All-American honors.
Regional championships took place this weekend in each of the four regions (East, Mid East, West, and Midwest), and the top five finishers from each region automatically qualify for the Championships in Ark. Last year Grace finished sixth at the East Regional Championship, and so she had to wait to be appointed an at-large bid to be able to run at the NCAA Championships (which she was awarded by virtue of her best time from earlier in the season). Grace one of only three freshmen at the national championships last year. The final field for this year's Championships will be announced on June 3rd.
The NCAA Championships open on June 10 at the University of Arkansas's John McDonnell Field. Grace will have to compete well in two preliminary rounds in order to reach the finals on June 13.
Report by Kyle Eichner '12, Yale Sports Publicity