June 5, 2012
DES MOINES, Iowa - - UC Davis senior Ashley Hearn and junior Sarah Sumpter will become the first Aggie women to compete at the NCAA Division I Outdoor Track and Field Finals this week when they face the nation's best at Drake University.
Hearn will compete in the discus on Wednesday afternoon beginning at 3:30 p.m. (PDT) while Sumpter will race in the 10,000-meter run on Thursday at 6:45 p.m. (PDT). Both advanced with top-12 performances at the NCAA West Prelim Meet last week at the University of Texas.
UC Davis is in just its fifth year of Division I status but has qualified members of its women's team for the finals for the first time after being represented on the men's side by hurdlers each of the previous three seasons.
"To have two distinctive event groups and our first two women is another good milestone to notch," said head coach Drew Wartenburg. "Just like with regionals, the hope is these athletes can share some of the knowledge of what it's like to compete on a national stage to serve as an incentive for future objectives."
Hearn enters the meet after winning the Big West Conference championship in the discus in May for the second time in her career, and then setting a school-record at the prelim meet. Her throw of 54.13 meets (177 feet, 7 inches) broke her own school mark of 173-05 and gave her a fifth-place finish at the regional.
Hearn has the eighth-best mark in the 24-competitor field. Anna Jelmini of Arizona State (57.49 meters) leads the way while Skylar White of Baylor (55.49) is second.
Sumpter, the Big West Women's Track Athlete of the Year, was a double-champion at the conference meet in both the 5,000 and 10,000 but focused on the longer race at Texas. She used a strong finish to secure her trip to Drake University after hovering between 11th and 13th place throughout the race.
She owns the UC Davis and Big West records in the 10,000 after finishing in 33 minutes, 19.77 seconds at the Stanford Invitational in April. She added the Big West Championship meet record with her victory at that competition in May.
The NCAA Championship meet began with the opening rounds at two regional prelims sites, funneling athletes to Drake for the national finals. Competition begins on Wednesday and continues through Saturday afternoon.