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Courtesy: UTSA Athletics

Benford moves on to national high jump semifinals on Friday night

Courtesy: UTSA Athletics Communications
Release: 05/28/2011
Courtesy UTSA Athletics Communications
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EUGENE, Ore. — Sophomore Keith Benford finished in a third-place tie in the high jump on Friday night at the NCAA Championships Preliminary Rounds and he advanced to the national semifinals, which will be contested in two weeks in Des Moines, Iowa (June 8-11).

The Southland Conference Champion recorded a 7-0 ¼ (2.14m) on his first and only attempt of the quarterfinals and the Pflugerville native will compete at the NCAA Championships for the second consecutive year after finishing 13th a year ago. Benford cleared 6-7 (2.01m) on his first try of the night, 6-9 (2.06m) on his second jump and 6-11 (2.11m) on his final attempt of the first round to move on to the quarters.

"The key tonight was staying focused and being mentally strong because of the weather," Benford said. "My goal is to be an All-American and I was able to keep that alive by qualifying for nationals. I felt good throughout the night other than the one miss at 6-9. I gained a lot of experience from last year and it definitely made things a lot less stressful knowing i've been here before. It allowed me to go in and perform to the best of my abilities."

"Keith competed very well tonight," head coach Aaron Fox said. "His goal was to make to the national meet and he did what he needed to do. He gained great experience last year and it served him well tonight. I'm looking forward to seeing what he does in two weeks in Des Moines."

On the track, sophomore Nate Brunette advanced to the 200 meters quarterfinals following his 20th-place, 21.46 performance in the second first-round heat of the evening. The Humble native will attempt to move on to the nationals semis in the second of three heats at 4:50 p.m. (CT) on Saturday. His performance came on the heels of a 17th-place effort (10.67) in the 100m quarters, which was five spots shy of a spot in the national semifinals.

"Nate got more experience tonight and that was very positive for him and our program," Fox said. "If he executes a good race tomorrow, he'll have a chance to move on to nationals."

Four other Roadrunners were in action on Friday, but the quartet saw their season come to an end.

Sophomore Darryl Wyrick clocked a 53.88 in the 400m hurdles quarterfinals, which was good for 24th, while freshman Keyunta Hayes placed 33rd in the first round of the 110m hurdles (14.57).

In the field, freshman Kerry Thompson cleared 6-7 (2.01m) en route to a 28th-place effort in the high jump and sophomore Phil Steinert finished 33rd in the hammer with a toss of 185-11 (56.67m).

UTSA has three entries on Saturday, as senior All-American Devon Bond (triple jump/2:30 p.m. CT) and sophomore Richard Garrett Jr. (discus/5:30 p.m. CT) will join Brunette for the final day of action at historic Hayward Field.

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