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El Paso, TX — Defending Champion Anthony Rotich had a stellar opening day, automatically advancing to the 3,000m steeplechase finals at the 2014 NCAA Championships.
"Highlight of the day for us was definitely Anthony Rotich winning his semifinal heat," head coach Mika Laaksonen said. "He is advancing to the final on Saturday and have the opportunity to defend his title so we are all very excited for him."
Rotich stormed past the competition in the 3,000m steeplechase as he registered a time of 8:39.76. The two-time national champion placed first in the first of twoheats and first overall automatically qualifying him for the final round onSaturday at 3:57 p.m. (MT).
On the women’s side Jallycia Pearson was the first Miner to compete today as she took to the track for the heptathlon.
Pearson opened the day with a personal-best time of 13.75 in the 100m hurdles. The junior crossed the finish line second in the fifth heat and ultimately placed 7th out of the 24 NCAA finalists.
The C-USA Champion followed up with a mark of 1.60m (5-3) in the high jump and a toss of 11.86m (38-11) in the shot put.
The Multi-event athlete rounded out the day ranked 13th after posting a time of 25.31 in the 200m dash. The El Paso native will conclude the heptathlon with the long jump, javelin, and 800m run tomorrow starting at 1:30 p.m.
Senior Janice Jackson rounded out her collegiate career with a fourth place finish in the fastest heat of the 100m hurdle semifinals. The All-American registered a time of 13.37, -0.3 to finish 13th out of 24 hurdlers.
Teammate Anna-Kay James followed in with a time of 13.83, -1.6.
"The ladies' day was not so sunny due to a couple of unfortunate injuries," Laaksonen said. "Jallycia (Pearson) hurt her back in the high jump and had a rough time performing after it but she fought through it admirably. After consulting with the medial staff on site we believe Janice (Jackson) may have factored her foot which obviously hindered her performance today. This is very unfortunate especially with this being her last race for us but she had an outstanding career and will be missed."
Tomorrow the Miners we kick off the third day of the national meet with Pearson in the heptathlon’s long jump at 1:30 p.m. and Nickevea Wilson in the triple jump at 4:25 p.m.
For live updates of the 2014 NCAA Championship will be available on Twitter @UTEPTrack and watch on ESPN3 and ESPNU starting at 5:30 p.m.
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