West Virginia track and field set for NCAA East Preliminary meet

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A number of West Virginia track and field athletes will have a shot next week to punch their ticket to the NCAA Championship meet. The list of qualifiers for the NCAA East Preliminary Round to determine who advances to the championship meet were announced on Thursday, with three Mountaineers set to compete.

Redshirt junior Cassandra Williamson will head to meet to compete in the 800 meter run following a banner season which saw her establish a new program record in the event during both indoor and outdoor season. 

Williamson already owned the school record in the event since setting it originally in 2022, and shattered her own personal best multiple times this season, most recently with a time of 2 minutes, 3.87 seconds at the 2024 Big 12 Outdoor Championship on May 9. She took sixth-place overall in the race, earning All-Big 12 honors. Williamson enters the event with the 15th-best mark of all declared athletes in a tight field where just six seconds separates the Top 20 competitors.

Another All-Big 12 honoree will take the track at the national preliminary meet as redshirt senior Mikenna Vanderheyden is set to compete in the 3000-meter steeplechase event. She finished the same at the conference meet in fourth-place to earn all-conference honors with a mark of 10 minutes, 13.39 seconds. 

A week prior to the strong finish at the Big 12 Championship she recorded the third-fastest time in program history in the event with a time of 10 minutes, 2.80 seconds. That mark is good enough for Vanderheyden to be listed 12th overall amongst declared athletes for the race.

Joining Vanderheyden in the steeplechase will be fellow redshirt senior Sarah Tait. Tait joined the program this season coming from Scotland’s University of Stirling, and she was the 2021 Senior Scottish National Champion in the event. She made her NCAA debut in the event with a mark of 10 minutes, 16.07 seconds at the WVU Last Chance meet and is ranked 27th amongst the declared runners.

A trio of Mountaineers from the West Virginia University track and field team were selected to compete at the 2024 NCAA East Preliminary Round on May 22-25. This year's preliminary round will be hosted by Kentucky at the Outdoor Track and Field Facility in Lexington, Kentucky.

The East Preliminary meet will be hosted by the University of Kentucky from Wednesday, May 22nd - Saturday, May 25th. Fans wanting to watch live canstream the meet on ESPN+, while live results will be available on WVUsports.com.