June 7, 2006
Freshman Rhonda Watkins is poised to make UCLA history at the NCAA Championships after a strong first day of competition that saw her qualify for the finals in both the high and long jump. Senior Dawn Harper also advanced to the finals in the 100m hurdles to highlight the Bruins on day one of the NCAA Track & Field Championships, hosted by Sacramento State.
Watkins started off her first NCAA Championships in impressive fashion as she broke the Trinidad and Tobago National Junior Record in the long jump with a lifetime-best leap of 21-6.25 (w+1.7). Her new best mark moves her into a tie for the No. 7 mark in Pac-10 history (tied with Arizona's Brianna Glenn), as well as a tie for No. 3 all-time at UCLA. It was also the top jump of the day, moving her into Thursday's final as the one to beat.
In the high jump, Watkins advanced to Friday's final after clearing 5-10.75, setting up a possible history making feat - If she places in both the long and high, Watkins will become the first woman Bruin to earn All-American honors in both events.
Harper moved on to Friday's 100m hurdle final after running the No. 2 time in heat two, 12.86. Overall, Harper's time tied for the third-fastest in the semifinal rounds. Harper advanced to the semifinals after winning heat four in 13.25 (4th overall).
Senior Caroline Sommers placed 21st overall in the high jump with a clearance of 5-8.50.
Sophomore Renee Williams finished ninth in flight one of the long jump with a mark of 20-5.75, but did not advance to tomorrow's final after placing 14th overall.
Sophomore Jolanda Diego finished sixth in heat one of the 200m (22nd overall), running 23.85, and did not advance to the next round.
Junior Kamaiya Warren finished 11th in flight one and 22nd overall in the discus, throwing 156-9. Warren will not advance to Friday's final.
Competition continues on Thursday with senior Chelsea Johnson in pole vault qualifying (4:30 pm), Watkins in the final of the long jump (6:30 pm), freshman Nicole Leach in the first round of the 400m hurdles (4:10 pm) and the 4x400m relay semifinal at 6:30 pm.