Three Roadrunners to compete at NCAA Championships on Wednesday
SAN ANTONIO — Three members of the UTSA men's track & field team will compete on Wednesday in the opening day of competition at the NCAA Championships. The four-day meet will take place at historic Hayward Field in Eugene, Ore.
Andrew Akens and All-American Richard Garrett Jr. will participate in the shot put at 7:30 p.m. (CT), while fellow All-American Keyunta Hayes is slated to race in the third 400-meter hurdles semifinal at 8:15 p.m. (CT).
Akens and Garrett Jr. are coming off top-10 performances two weeks ago at the NCAA Championships Preliminary Rounds in Fayetteville, Ark.
Garrett Jr., the Conference USA Champion who entered the national meet ranked seventh nationally, registered a measurement of 63-7 ¾ (19.40m) on his fifth attempt of the afternoon and that was good for fifth place in the field of 48. The 6-foot, 275-pound senior from Garland owns a program-record measurement of 65-9 ¾ (20.06m), which came at last month's conference meet, and he will be looking to earn the fifth All-America certificate (third outdoor) of his decorated Roadrunners career. His best finish came two years ago when he placed 11th in Des Moines, Iowa.
Meanwhile, Akens joined his teammate as a national semifinalist following his eighth-place showing at the West Preliminary. The junior from Mesquite recorded a mark of 60-8 ¾ (18.51m) on his first attempt of the day and that stood among the top 12 for the remainder of the competition. His season-long mark of 61-3 ½ (18.68m) came in a runner-up finish to Garrett Jr. at the C-USA Championships and Wednesday will mark his inaugural appearance in the national semis.
Hayes, who came into the meet with the nation's second-fastest time (49.59) this spring, placed second in the third and final quarterfinal heat two weeks ago to earn an automatic berth in the next round of competition. The Tyler native recorded his second-best clocking of the campaign, 49.75, and that was good for fourth in the field of 24 hurdlers. He will be in search of his second All-America certificate after finishing fourth two years ago in a school-record 49.38. The top two finishers in each of the semifinal heats along with the next two fastest times will move on to the national final, which is scheduled for 6:33 p.m. (CT) on Friday.
Ten UTSA athletes have combined for 17 All-America certificates in program history and 13 of those have come under the direction of 12th-year head coach Aaron Fox. The Roadrunners best team finish came two years ago when they placed 43rd with five points on the strength of Hayes' fourth-place effort in the 400m hurdles.