Two Advance to Eugene Following Day One at NCAA West T&F Prelims

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Seniors Chelsea Cassulo and Christabel Nettey punched their tickets to nationals and several other members of the Arizona State University track and field team lived to fight another day as the squad completed the first day of competition at the NCAA West Preliminaries at Mike A. Myers Stadium on Thursday in Austin, Texas. 

The NCAA Preliminaries are, in essence, the qualifying or advancement rounds for the NCAA Championships, which are set to take place in Eugene, Ore., beginning June 5.

The top 48 student-athletes per event per region (East and West) advance to the NCAA Preliminaries where the fields will face off in an elimination format until only 12 student-athletes per event in each region are remaining.  Those 24 final student -athletes will converge in Eugene for the NCAA Finals.  The lone exception to the rule is the relay events, where only the top 24 relays per region have advanced to the preliminaries with 12 eventually advancing to the finals. 

Cassulo, as has become habit, started the day off on the right note for the No. 9 Sun Devil women with a monster throw of 70.07m (229-11) on her first throw of the day to win the competition.  It was a new career-record for Cassulo, who set the ASU record in the event earlier this year. 

On top of it being the top mark in the nation this season, Cassulo became just the seventh individual at the NCAA Division I level to break 70 meters and now ranks as the sixth-best performer in NCAA history and holds the 13th-best single throw in Division I history.

The throw also improved upon Cassulo's hold on second-place in Pac-12 history in the event. 

Nettey was the next Sun Devil to advance to the finals as her second leap of 6.50m (21-04.00) in the long jump as good enough for a second-place finish and a bid to the national meet. Nettey was second in the event.

Shelby Houlihan advanced to the finals of the 1,500-meter run, set to take place on Saturday as she won her heat in 4:22.17 to earn an automatic bid to the quarterfinals where 12 will advance to the semifinals/finals in Eugene.

Darius Terry followed that with a solid run of 3:47.52 to take sixth in his heat and earn one of four time qualifications to the quarterfinals, which will also take place on Saturday.

Ryan Milus kept the momentum rolling in the men's 100-meter dash, clocking a time of 10.33 in the fourth heat of the opening round to take second in his heat and earn an automatic bid to the quarterfinals tomorrow.

Brianna Tate also earned an automatic qualification, taking third in her heat in 53.99 and earning one of the three autobids to tomorrow's semifinals as well. 

Among those that just missed advancing beyond the opening round was Nick Happe, who was 31st overall in the 1,500 and will now rely on the 5,000-meter run for a chance to move on to Eugene. 

Ke'Nya Hardge clocked the 31st -fastest time in the 400-meter hurdles as well, finishing just under a second out of moving on in her first season at the D1 level. 

At 400 meters, Sarah Geren was 30th in 54.36 and did not advance to the finals while Will Herny was 28th and Chris Burrows was 37th and neither advanced. All still will compete in the relay events before the weekend is over.  

Alycia Herring came just four centimeters shy of advancing to Eugene with her leap of 6.15m (20-02.25) in the long jump, which was good for 15th overall. Keia Pinnick was 20th overall in the competition with a leap of 6.10m (20-00.25) while Constance Ezugha was 22nd with a leap of 6.06m (19-10.75).

Tomorrow's events will get underway with the women's discus throw at Noon CT and with Sun Devils in action throughout the day up until the final event of the evening in the 200-meter dashes.

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