Getting to Know the Title Contenders

  • By Nick Arthur
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  • June 11, 2014 01:27 PM
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Oregon's historic Hayward Field will serve as host of the 2014 Division I NCAA Outdoor Track & Field Championships in Eugene, Ore. 
Oregon Sports Communications 
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. - Three members of the West Virginia University track and field team represent the Mountaineers at the 2014 Division I NCAA Outdoor Track & Field Championships on June 11-14 in Eugene, Ore.
A live stream of the action will be provided at ESPN3.com. Here is a chance to get to know a little bit about each WVU qualifier prior to this weekend’s competition.
Allison Lasnicki | Junior | Canastota, N.Y. | 10,000 Meters
Junior Allison Lasnicki enters the weekend as the only Mountaineer with prior NCAA Finals experience. The Canastota, N.Y., native placed ninth in the 10,000 meters in Eugene a year ago and is hoping to use that experience to her advantage this weekend.
“Every year is a different year. The competition is good this year, not that it wasn’t last year. There is no clear-cut favorite this year,” Lasnicki said. “The whole race is going to be an honest pace. Let’s see what happens. I am hoping to hang in there and pick off some girls.”
Lasnicki placed second in the event at the Big 12 Outdoor Championships in Lubbock, Texas, on May 16. She also placed second at the Penn Relays on April 24 with a season-best time of 34:11.20. Lasnicki’s career-best mark of 33:36.11 was set as a sophomore.  
“I couldn’t have gotten to this point without the support of my teammates and coaches,” Lasnicki said. “Meb Keflezighi, the guy who just won the Boston Marathon, I liked what he says all the time. He says a third of your competition is just going to take themselves out of it by overtraining or undertraining. A third of your competition will take themselves out of it mentally because they get overwhelmed by the atmosphere. So you really just have to go out there and race a third of the pack. I do the best I can do to be mentally and physically ready.”
Lasnicki will compete on Friday night at 10:15 p.m., ET.
Sarah Martinelli | Senior | Morgantown, W.Va. | 3,000 Steeplechase
Senior Sarah Martinelli is set to conclude her Mountaineer career this weekend at the NCAA Finals.
The Morgantown, W.Va., native and University High alum will be competing in the 3,000-meter steeplechase semifinals on Wednesday night at 9:45 p.m., ET.
“This is exactly how I envisioned ending my career – at the NCAA Finals in Eugene,” Martinelli said. “At the preliminaries, I was little wary because I knew it possibly could be my last competition if I didn’t qualify. But knowing this will be my last outing as a Mountaineer is exactly how I want it to be.”
In the midst of being ‘wary,’ Martinelli recorded the second-fastest time in school history in the 3,000 steeple at NCAA East Prelims (10:10.25), while cutting more than seven seconds off her previous career-best mark of 10:17.38. She won the Penn Relays earlier this season and also placed fourth at the Big 12 Outdoor Championships.
“Everyone has been so supportive of me over the years and have helped fuel my motivation,” Martinelli said. “Coach Cleary has helped develop me as a distance runner and as a competitor in general.”
Martinelli will need to either finish in the top five in her heat, or hold one of the two best remaining times overall in order to advance to the steeplechase finals on Friday night.
“The level of competition definitely brings the best out of me,” Martinelli explained. “Everything will be on the line this weekend, and I’m ready to give it my all one last time.”
Stormy Nesbit | Senior | Roseville, Minn. | Triple Jump
After falling just two centimeters short of reaching the NCAA Finals in Eugene last season, senior Stormy Nesbit wasn’t going to let that happen again in 2014.
“That sat in the back of my mind for about 11 months,” Nesbit said. “It fueled me and served as my motivation.”
Nesbit used that motivation to record the longest jump in school history this season at the NCAA East Prelims. The leap of 13.19 meters earned her sixth place in the East region and qualified her for the NCAA Finals.
In each of her last two outings, Nesbit has recorded a season-best mark in the triple jump. Nesbit admits improving and performing her best at the end of the season has been the plan all along
“Based on the training, that’s always been our goal. The conference meet, regionals and obviously nationals are all very important,” Nesbit explained. “I’ve been working very hard the last couple of weeks, making sure I’m improving on my marks and improving on the technique and training. It’s fueling me into each week, and I’m taking it one step at a time.”
Nesbit will compete in the second flight of the triple jump on Saturday, scheduled to begin immediately after the first heat slated for 6:25 p.m., ET.
“It’s exciting. It’s the end. I would have loved to have made it any other year, but I have a great attitude toward it and I’m grateful that I’m making it at this time,” Nesbit said. “I think that success comes when it comes, and it’s all about patience. Before, I was a little shaky. Not that I wasn’t capable, it’s just that I wasn’t ready. All of those experiences have helped me to get an opportunity at this meet. I’ve been under pressure before, so this year it was my time.”