Down to her last throw and needing a strong mark just to advance to the next round, Claire Ray tossed her way into history.
Putting an exclamation mark on a spring debut that has been nothing short of remarkable, the first-year from Park Ridge took sixth place in the discus yesterday at the NCAA D-III championships to give women’s track its first All-American since the 2006 indoor distance medley relay. Competing at Oshkosh, WI, Ray’s third toss of 42.37 meters landed her a spot in the final round and assured her the necessary top-eight finish.
“I was excited,” said Ray, who earned UAA Rookie of the Year honors this spring. “I wasn’t actually expecting to place going in.
“The first two weren’t that great. It was really windy and not exactly ideal conditions. I was getting really upset that I wasn’t throwing as well and I just kinda let it go. Every single throw I thought, ‘this is my last before the end of the season.’”
Also in action on the first day of competition, fourth-year Abby Sheldon finished 14th in the 10k with a time of 37:14.43. Sheldon competed in the 10k for the first time this spring and hit the NCAA provisional standard every race she ran, but her consistency wasn’t enough for the upset.
“I thought she ran all right,” head coach Chris Hall said. “I think the wind put some tactics into the race—there were gaps separating groups of runners throughout the race.”
Other All-American hopefuls will toe the line today. Running in the preliminaries of the 1,500-meters, fourth-year Emil Bojanov set up a return to the final after finishing 11th last year. He took advantage of more favorable conditions and a brisk pace to easily qualify for Saturday’s championship race with a split of 4:00.97.
Teammate Zach Rodgers sits at 13th in the decathlon after a day of action and will look to move up in the standings when the final five events get under way today. Second-year Rachel Venezia will compete in the steeplechase tonight.