WEDNESDAY, JUNE 10, 2009
Natasha Harvey earns spot in long jump final at NCAA Championships
Despite being delayed by rain for more than three hours, senior JU track & field athlete Natasha Harvey still managed to secure a spot in the long jump finals at the NCAA Championships on Wednesday night in Fayetteville, Ark.

Harvey, who was seeded 20th to start the event, posted a leap of 20’1.5” (6.13m) to finish 11th and earn a place in the Thursday’s final for the third consecutive year. The top 12 from the preliminaries will battle for the national title tomorrow beginning at 4:45 p.m. CT.

Oregon’s Jamesha Youngblood (21’5.25” (6.53m)), San Diego State’s Karoline Koehler (21’0.5” (6.41m)) and UTEP’s Blessing Okagbare (21’0” (6.41m) made up the top three spots.

"The three-hour rain delay, after the athletes were warmed up and ready to jump, really took its toll on the field,” said JU head coach Ron Grigg. “Many good jumpers under performed today. Tasha was able to persevere and advance to the finals tomorrow."

The championship field will get three jumps to open the competition and the top nine will come back for three more jumps to determine the national champion.

Last season, Harvey took second in the long jump finals with a leap of 21’10” (6.65m).

Earlier in the day, Harvey along with sophomores Danielle Davenport, Louise Kiernan and Unique Singleton missed earning a spot in the 4x100-meter relay finals after finishing 15th in the preliminaries with a time of 44.84.

"We needed to be perfect today if we had any chance of advancing to the final,” said Grigg. “We ran well, but it wasn't enough against this level of competition. It is a great accomplishment for the program to have a relay team at the NCAA Championship, and for the 3 sophomores, it has exposed them to the highest level of our sport. This experience will help them in the future."

Even though they missed the finals, the group was huge part of JU’s success en route to its fourth consecutive Atlantic Sun Outdoor Championship. The relay team won all five of its regular season attempts, including taking the conference title on May 16 with a school and meet record time of 44.82.

The Dolphins also broke the school record again at NCAA Regional on May 30 with a time of 44.62 to place fifth, which was good enough for an at-large bid to this meet.

JU fans can follow Harvey in the long jump through the championship site on ncaa.com or on live stats through flashresults.com.