March 12, 2009
NEW HAVEN, Conn. - Standout sophomore middle-distance runner Kate Grace will compete in the 800-meter run at the NCAA Indoor Track and Field Championships hosted by Texas A&M in College Station, Texas on Friday and Saturday. Grace, who is the sole qualifier for the NCAA Championships from the Yale squad, is one of only three Ivy League athletes that will be competing at the meet. Grace is a veteran of the NCAA National Championship as she also competed at the NCAA Championships outdoors in 2008.
The road to the NCAA Championships was tough for Grace. All the qualification for the Indoor Championships is based on time. In the 800-meter, there is an automatic qualifying standard of 2:05.00, as well as a provisional qualifying standard. Those athletes that meet the automatic qualifying standard are automatically eligible to compete in the championships while the athletes that have met the provisional standard of 2:09.00 are eligible for the Championships based on time. Only seven athletes received automatic qualifying standards, so the field of 17 was filled with the 10 athletes that had the fastest provisional qualifying times. Grace, who set a school record in a time of 2:06.41 on Mar. 7 in the preliminary round of the ECAC Championships, was the 17th and final competitor selected for the NCAA Indoor Track and Field Championships.
Grace has continually improved in the 800-meter run this season, first setting a school record in a time of 2:07.83 in winning the Ivy League Championships. It was critical that Grace ran quickly at the ECAC Championships because the next nearest potential qualifier for the meet was only .04 seconds behind her.
Grace, who is the only Ivy League athlete that will be competing in a track event at the NCAA Championships, will start off competition with the preliminary round of the 800-meter run. She will run in the second of two heats of the event, which is scheduled to begin at 6:00 p.m. For Grace to qualify for the eight-runner finals of the event, which is held on Saturday, she will need to either place in the top two in her heat or be one of the four fastest athletes from either heat that did not place in the top two. The competition, though, will be very tough, with the fastest athlete in the field, Tennessee's Phoebe Wright, having a seed time of 2:02.39. Wright, who is a three-time All-American, will run in Grace's heat and placed sixth at the NCAA Outdoor Championships last year.
Competing at the NCAA Championships is not a new experience for Grace. Grace competed at the NCAA Outdoor Championships last year, where she placed 24th in a time of 2:09.47.
Grace views the prior experience at the NCAA Championships as helpful in preparing for this year's competition.
"Last year, I was so nervous at the NCAA Championships," Grace said. "Having been there [at the NCAA Championships] before will help because I will be calmer and not as nervous. Track is such a mental sport that it is important to not get too nervous before your race. This year, I want to try to stay calm and visualize my race and try to not get too nervous."
Grace has been pleased with her progress so far this year and is looking forward to racing. This is her first year competing at the 800-meter run indoors.
"I have been dropping time in the event all year," Grace said. "I want to have a good race and I have been feeling very strong this year, even better than last year. It is a question of if I get mentally prepared. I was happy with my race on Saturday, but got caught behind other runners in the beginning of the race on Sunday, which is something I want to avoid this weekend. It is good to get the experience of running at the National Championships because I normally don't get to run against this level of competition. I want to run well and know I can compete at this high level of competition."
Live results will be available during the meet by clicking here.
Report filed by Caleb Dorfman '09, Yale Sports Publicity