June 6, 2007
Sacramento, CA - Ingrid Kantola and Rhonda Watkins both advanced to the finals in their respective events on day one of the NCAA Track & Field Championship as the duo notched automatic qualifiers on Wednesday to move on to the final rounds.
Kantola, who is ranked amongst the top-10 in the country in the pole vault, cleared every height on her first attempt to move on to the finals in the vault. The junior cleared 12-3.50, then 12-9.50, and finally 13-1.50 to advance to Friday's pole vault final.
Watkins, competing in two events on the same day - the high and long jump, advanced to the finals in both events. The sophomore started off the day in the high jump, and cleared heights of 5-7, 5-8.50, 5-9.75 and 5-10.75 to advance. In the long jump, Watkins only needed one attempt, as she leapt passed the automatic qualifying mark with a jump of 21-5.50. That was also the farthest mark of the day by any competitor.
Junior Renee Williams finished 16th overall in the long jump with a mark of 20-2.25, and just missed a spot in the final by 2.25 inches.
Senior All-American Jacqueline Nguyen was slated to compete in the pole vault, but was forced to pull out after a flare up of tendinitis in her right knee. She ends her career ranked fifth all-time at UCLA (13-7.25). In the 400m, junior Maris Wisdom finished 20th overall and fifth in heat three in a time of 53.80.
On Thursday, competition continues with the Nicole Leach in the first round of the 400m hurdles. The women's 4x400m relay will also run in the semifinal rounds. Also, Watkins will go for her second NCAA title in the long jump.