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)

Day two of the NCAA East Preliminaries saw several highlights for Western Kentucky's track and field squad, including Kymari Gates’ qualification to the NCAA Championships in the 400-meter run as well as four personal-best performances.

The Hilltoppers also saw Martin Owusu-Antwi advance to Saturday’s quarterfinals in the 200-meter dash.

“You must survive and advance in this very unforgiving environment,” WKU coach Erik Jenkins said in a news release. “The times we are seeing posted in this meet are world class. Our student-athletes have advanced with quality efforts resulting in automatic NCAA advancements, school records and one of the best performances in school history. These student-athletes are giving themselves a chance to represent WKU at the highest level of our sport with their showings.”

Gates recorded one of WKU’s five personal bests with a time of 45.83 seconds in the men’s 400 meters. The senior finished third in his heat to earn a trip to Austin, Texas.

Owusu-Antwi clocked a personal-best 20.70 in the men’s 200. While his mark was not enough for a top-three finish in his heat, it was the top time among all non-automatic qualifiers to secure one of the six remaining slots in Saturday’s quarterfinals.

Maor Seged delivered a personal-best 50.65 in the men’s 400-meter hurdles – the second-best time ever recorded by a Hilltopper in the outdoor event. Seged’s mark ranked 13th in the 24-person quarterfinal, leaving him as the first competitor out of advancing. 

On the women’s side, Juannae Lewis notched a school-record 52.58 in the 400 meters. While her time ranked 12th across the quarterfinal field, an automatic qualifier with a time slower than Lewis’ earned the final ticket to the NCAA Championships.

Getter Lemberg rounded out WKU’s action on the day, representing the Lady Toppers in the women’s pole vault. The senior cleared the opening height of 12 feet, 4.5 inches on her first try before getting caught at the next height. 

WKU will have Myesha Nott kick off Saturday’s action from the University of North Florida in the women’s triple jump at 2 p.m. CDT. The men’s 4x100-meter relay will hit the track at 5:15 p.m. before Owusu-Antwi runs in the 200-meter quarterfinals at 6:50 p.m. The men’s 4x400-meter relay will look to qualify for the NCAA Outdoor Championships at 8:45 p.m. to conclude the prelims.


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