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Maryland track & field NCAA Championships preview

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Five Terps are competing for national titles. Here’s what to expect.

Greg Thompson track & field Photo by Maryland Athletics

Five Maryland track and field athletes will be the final competitors for Terrapin athletics in 2018-19 this weekend at the NCAA Outdoor Track and Field championships in Austin, Texas.

While the men’s and women’s teams finished just 10th and 13th out of 13 teams respectively at the Big Ten Championships, it was still a solid year for the program. The Terps have broken five individual records and one relay record, and had 18 performances that would rank in the top 10 all-time of a respective event.

Athletes qualify for the NCAA Championships by finishing in the top twelve of either the East or West Regional preliminary, which means only 24 qualified for this weekend’s meet. Maryland competed in the East Regional in Jacksonville, Florida from May 23-25. Below is a guide for when you can watch each Terp, as well as a recap of their season so far. The event will be broadcast on various ESPN platforms throughout the weekend.

Friday, June 6

Graduate student Alex Lucki, 1500m

This will be the Canadian’s second trip to the outdoor track and field championships, as she finished 24th in the 1,500 meters in 2016. Lucki also qualified the 2017 NCAA Cross Country Championships, where she finished 163rd out of 255 competitors.

After not running during the 2018 outdoor season, Lucki has been one of Maryland’s best performers this year. Her 5,000-meter time of 16:20.01 from the Bison Outdoor Classic broke a 32-year old school record by 14 seconds, and her 1,500-meter time of 4:18.62 from the Florida Relays is second in school history. Lucki finished fifth in her semifinal heat at regionals with a time of 4:18.69 to qualify, and is seeded 17th this weekend. The semifinals of the women’s 1500 meters are scheduled to start Thursday at 8:16 p.m. ET.

Senior Jewel Smith, long jump

Smith qualified in the long jump for the second straight year, finishing 11th with a jump of 6.06m to narrowly advance to nationals. Smith finished 22nd in last year’s competition, but her jump of 6.24 meters in last year’s East Regional preliminary ranks third in school history. Smith hasn’t hit that mark yet this year, jumping 6.21 meters at the Florida Relays and 6.17 meters to finish third at the Big Ten championships. The long jump finals are scheduled for 9:30 p.m. ET.

Xahria Santiago, 400m hurdles

After just barely missing the NCAA Championships last year as a freshman, Santiago qualified this year with a season-best time of 56.88. She finished 13th in last year’s East Regional preliminary, but her time this year was the fifth fastest in the field. Santiago also finished second in the 400-meter hurdles at the Big Ten Championships with a time of 57.69.

Her personal best of 56.69 from last year’s Big Ten Championships is the second-fastest time in school history, and her time of 54.08 in the 400-meter run at this year’s North Florida Spring Break Invitational is Maryland’s sixth-fastest. Santiago also competed for Canada at last year’s IAAF World U20 Championships, placing eighth in the 400-meter hurdles and fourth in the 4x400-meter relay. The semifinal of the 400-meter hurdles will take place at 10 p.m. ET, where she will be seeded No. 8.

Friday, June 7

Senior Greg Thompson, discus

Thompson made Maryland history this season, becoming the program’s first men’s Big Ten champion after winning the discus with a throw of 57.76 meters. This will be his third NCAA Championships, as he finished 15th in 2017 and second in 2018. Thompson is the top returner from last year’s meet, and his 65.56-meter mark from this year’s Penn Relays is the best in the country by nearly two meters. However, Thompson’s mark of 58.31 meters from this year’s regional was just the ninth best throw across the two meets. But if Thompson can be the best this weekend, he’ll be Maryland’s first track and field NCAA champion since 1979. The final of the discus throw starts at 8:05 p.m. ET.

Saturday, June 8

Junior Mikella Lefebvre-Oatis, high jump

The UCLA transfer qualified for her first ever NCAA Championship by clearing 1.75 meters at the East Regional. That’s her third best mark of the season, with her high of 1.77 meters cracking the top 10 in program history. Oatis’ best of 1.85 meters from the Bob Larsen Distance Carnival/UCLA Legends Invite in April 2017 is higher than the mark hit by competitors in either regional, but she hasn’t been within 0.06 meters of that mark since. The finals of the high jump are scheduled for 6 p.m. ET.