Sean Cleary admits this year’s group probably isn’t the strongest contingent of track and field competitors he’s sent to the NCAA East Regionals, but there are still a number of performers who could advance to the national finals taking place in Des Moines, Iowa, in two weeks.
At the top of the list, of course, is senior Chelsea Carrier-Eades
, who has already qualified for the national finals in the heptathlon while also surpassing the Olympic Trials qualifying standard in that event.
This weekend in Jacksonville, Fla., Carrier-Eades will now try to advance in the 100-meter hurdles while also competing in the long jump in an effort to remain sharp for a shot at the heptathlon title in two weeks.
Carrier-Eades heads into this weekend ranked fifth in the 100 hurdles with a career-best time of 12.93 established earlier this month at the Big East Outdoor Championships at South Florida.
But Carrier-Eades will be chasing favorites Christina Manning of Ohio State (12.57) and the Clemson duo of Brianna Rollins (12.78) and Bridgette Owens (12.83) in the 100 hurdles. Teammate Chene Townsend is also in the event and is ranked 20th with a personal-best time of 13.44, also performed at South Florida.
West Virginia will have three athletes competing in the long jump in Carrier-Eades, sophomore Stormy Nesbit
and senior Meghan Mock
Carrier-Eades is ranked 20th in the long jump with a season-best leap of 6.22 meters on March 28. Nesbit and Mock have also topped 6 meters this year.
“I’m not sure there is another school in the country with three jumping over 6 meters right now, and that’s just a tremendous trio,” said Cleary. “(Assistant coach) Shelly (Gallimore) is doing an amazing job with them.”
Nesbit has an opportunity to advance in the triple jump as she heads into this weekend ranked eighth in the region with a top mark of 13.07 meters performed last weekend at ECACs.
Cleary sees Nesbit rounding into form right now.
“She was a really good triple-jumper out of high school and she struggled a little bit at her last school (Minnesota), but she is really coming around now,” said Cleary. “She is just getting it in the last few weeks. She is on path.”
Cleary said he is noticing Nesbit getting a feel for her event and that is usually when rapid improvement takes place.
“There are new flukes in this sport,” he said. “There are no half-court shots at the buzzer. When you feel it in practice enough and you have the confidence to bring it into a race it can surface and for Stormy I think it can surface that quickly.”
Although Jessica O’Connell is not ranked among the top 30 competitors in this weekend’s 5K race, Cleary said she has the ability to move on to nationals with a strong weekend. O’Connell has been to NCAAs in the past before injuries and misfortune has sidetracked her career. But O’Connell is once again healthy and in great shape heading into this weekend.
“I think Jess O’Connell has a shot in the 5K even though she is so new to the event,” he said. “We wouldn’t have put her in there if we didn’t think she had a shot (of advancing).”
Others competing this weekend include Jordan Hamric
(3,000-meter steeple chase), Stephanie Caruso
(10K), Sydney Cummings
(high jump), Katlyn Shelar
(pole vault) and Terina Miller
“This is probably a few less than we thought going into the outdoor season, but we’re proud of these kids and we’re just going to go down there and do the best that we can with this group,” Cleary said.
The University of North Florida is serving as the host school for this weekend’s meet.