Coastal’s van Graan sets pace at NCAA Preliminary

ccutrack-vanCoastal Carolina redshirt sophomore Aynslee van Graan opened the NCAA East Preliminary Round in impressive fashion, crossing the finish line at 4:19.57 in the prelims of the women’s 1500m to qualify for the quarterfinal round.

She placed fifth in her heat and 10th overall, while setting a new CCU school record and jumping to No. 2 all-time in the Big South. Van Graan, who was named Big South Women’s Outdoor Track Athlete of the Week on March 30, will compete Saturday at 6:30 p.m. in the quarterfinals.

The Pretoria, South Africa, native will be looking to secure a coveted trip to the NCAA Outdoor Championships, which is scheduled for June 8-11 in Eugene, Ore. The top 12 overall finishers in each event will advance to the national meet.

Van Graan was one of Coastal’s top mid-distance performers this year, as her 2016 outdoor season included multiple top-five finishes in the 1,500m and a first-place showing in the Bill Carson Invitational. She also went All-Big South in the event, finishing second at the conference championships with a time of 4:27.96.

The opening day of the NCAA East Preliminary Round, held Thursday at University of North Florida’s Hodges Stadium in Jacksonville, Fla., also included a strong showing in the prelims of the 100m from Coastal sophomore Therius Styles. The Raleigh, N.C., native finished fourth in his heat (10.53) and 25th overall, missing a qualifying spot in the quarterfinals by a fraction of a second (.004).

Elsewhere, Coastal redshirt sophomore Jerome Coaxum Jr. wrapped his season with an unfortunate fall on the final hurdle of the 400m hurdles and crossed the finish line at 59.37. The Mt. Pleasant, S.C., native finished eighth in his heat and 47th overall.

The second day of the preliminary round opens with the women’s discus and men’s javelin at 12 p.m. and concludes with men’s 3000m steeplechase at approximately 9:30 p.m. Robert Castellani kicks off the second day of the NCAA East Preliminary with an appearance in the men’s javelin. Friday’s action will also include Devontaye Edwards in the men’s discus at 4:30 p.m., as well as Desmond Wallace and Kevondre’ Hunt Jr. in the men’s 110m high hurdles at 5:30 p.m.

Photo courtesy of CCU Athletics

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