Jones did so by placing third in the long jump at the NCAA West Prelims on Thursday – the first day of women’s competition in the four-day meet at Sacramento State’s Hornet Stadium.
As in all the events at the Prelims, the top 12 in each event advance to the NCAA Championships in Austin, Texas, on June 7-10. Other than the 10,000 meters, all the running events Thursday served to advance athletes to Saturday’s decisive rounds. Seven Cardinal were able to advance from the track to Saturday’s action.
Of the three events involving Stanford athletes on Thursday that decided NCAA berths, Jones was the only one to clinch a spot. Laurel Wong in the pole vault, and Grace Connolly and Audrey DaDamio in the 10,000 did not advance. Connolly will have another chance in the 5,000.
Jones, who placed fourth at the NCAA Indoor Championships in March, was the last to jump among the 48-athlete field because of her high seeding. The danger in this meet for the elite is that each only gets three attempts, rather than the possibility of six. Thus, after going a relatively short 18-2 ¼ (5.54m) on her first attempt, Jones found herself in a hole with only two tries left.
Going into her second jump, Jones was in 42nd place. But everything changed on that try when she reached 21-1 ¼ to move into second and essentially ensure her passage to Austin.
Stanford sent four runners into the 800 and two advanced, both from the same heat. Needing to finish among the top three in each heat for automatic advancement, Roisin Willis controlled the first heat and set up teammate Taylor James for success.
Willis, a freshman and reigning NCAA indoor 800 champion, cruised for a wire-to-wire victory in 2:04.77 and allowed James, a redshirt freshman, enough contact to pull her teammate to a personal best. James was fourth in the heat, but her time of 2:04.97 held as the fastest time qualifier through the additional five heats. Stanford junior Ellie Deligianni and graduate student Anna Tovkach were unable to advance.
Stanford freshman Juliette Whittaker, second to Willis in the NCAA indoor 800 final and holder of the national high school outdoor record at that distance, bypassed that event for her NCAA run in favor of the 1,500.
How does it look so far? Good. Whittaker took third in the…
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