Kymari Gates

Western Kentucky's Kymari Gates qualified for the NCAA Championships in the 400 meters on Friday at the NCAA East Preliminaries in Jacksonville, Fla. (WKU Athletics)

Western Kentucky’s Kymari Gates earned Second-Team All-American honors in the men’s 400 meters, and the Hilltoppers’ 4x100-meter relay also garnered Second-Team All-American honors during Wednesday’s opening day of the NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships in Austin, Texas.

Action from the four-day meet is taking place at Mike A. Myers Stadium on the campus of the University of Texas.

“I am extremely happy with the way our student-athletes competed today,” WKU coach Erik Jenkins said in a news release. “They gave a great effort at securing spots in the finals.”

Championship competition opened with the combination of Will Bush, Martin Owusu-Antwi, Abdur Kelly and Gates posting a time of 39.24 seconds in the men’s 4x100 relay to tie for 12th place and earn All-American status. The Hilltoppers finished fifth in the third and final heat with the top three finishers earning a spot in Friday’s finals while the fourth team ahead of the Tops was left out by one hundredth of a second.

Between relays, Gates took the track as an individual, competing in the men’s 400 prelims. The senior clocked a 46.33 to finish 16th overall and lock up All-American status for the second time of the meet and fourth time during his career at WKU.

WKU’s final action of the day came in the men’s 4x400-meter relay where the team clocked what would have been a school record at 3:02.04. After the group of Kelly, Gates, Oliver Alexandre and Owusu-Antwi won the third heat, a protest was filed and WKU’s time was disqualified.

“Unfortunately, things didn’t go our way in an extremely gallant effort in the men’s 4x400,” Jenkins said. “The guys ran 3:02.04 but were disqualified after a protest by another team. The time they ran would have been a school record by almost a second and would have earned them a spot in the NCAA finals.”

Had the Hilltopper unit advanced to the finals, 2019 would have been the first time WKU’s 4x400 relay earned All-American honors both indoors and outdoors in the same season.

This marked the fifth consecutive season both the men’s 4x100- and 4x400-meter relay squads from WKU have earned a spot to compete at the NCAA Outdoor Championships. WKU was one of just 10 programs in the country sending both its men’s 4x100 and 4x400 relays to the NCAA Outdoor Championships and one of just four non-Power 5 programs to do so.

On the women’s side, WKU’s Annastacia Forrester will begin action in the long jump at 8:30 p.m. Thursday. The Lady Topper junior will compete from the second flight of the event’s finals after posting a personal-best mark of 20 feet, 3.75 inches at the NCAA East Prelims to earn a trip to Austin.{&end}


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