Thirteen Missourians qualify for 2012 NCAA DI Indoor Track & Field Nationals

Thirteen athletes with Missouri ties have qualified for the 2012 NCAA Division I Indoor Track & Field National Championships in Idaho for this Friday and Saturday in Nampa, Idaho. The list of all qualifiers was released earlier tonight with an average of 16 individual qualifiers per event and 12 qualifiers per relay. The list of Missouri qualifiers includes many former Missouri High School State Champions and several Gatorade Missouri Athletes of the year.

Qualifiers and Start Lists:
2012 NCAA DI Indoor Track & Field Nationals Missouri Qualifiers
Friday-Saturday, March 9-10, 2012
Nampa, Idaho
Seed place with ties/Overall Seed    Name Year School     Time/Mark
200 Meter Dash
 11  Paris Daniels         JR Kansas           23.48
3000 Meter Run
  7  Emily Sisson          FR Providence 9:06.04
60 Meter Hurdles
  9  Tiffani McReynolds    SO Baylor           8.15
4×400 Meter Relay
  1  Kansas        2) Paris Daniels JR  3:31.36
  6  Florida       2) Alishea Usery SR         3:33.66
 10  Texas Tech    4) Olivia Lewis JR          3:34.51
 11  Tennessee     3) Kianna Ruff SO          3:34.76
Pole Vault
 t3/3  Tara Diebold        SR Arkansas         4.37m/14-4
 t16/19  Breanna Bussel           SR Nebraska        4.23m/13-10.5
Weight Throw
 13  Erin Atkinson         SO Baylor           20.84m/68-4.5
60 Meter Dash
t7/7  Maurice Mitchell     SR Florida State   6.61
200 Meter Dash
3  Maurice Mitchell      SR Florida State    20.70
800 Meter Run
7  Ricky West              JR Missouri         1:47.81
1 Mile Run
9  Nick Happe              SO Arizona State    3:58.73
Long Jump
T7/8  Malcom Pennix        JR Missouri         7.74m/25-4.75
9 Women in 10 events
4 Men in 5 events
13 total in 15 events
The only two event qualifier on the women’s side is Paris Daniels of Kansas. The junior is a former standout at Normandy High School who began her college career at Coffeyville Community College in Kansas. Daniels is seeded 11th in the 200 with a time of 23.48. Daniels has also qualified as a member of the KU 4×400 squad who is the top seed with the time of 3:31.36. Crystal City native and coach with stops at several Missouri colleges and high schools, Vince Bingham is largely responsible for putting together the KU squad. Bingham is the University of Kansas Track & Field Director of Operations/Recruiting Coordinator. Daniels is one of four St. Louis area women who have qualified in the 4×400.
After a strong freshman season Alishea Usery has had much of her career plagued by injuries. The Berkeley High record breaker and Florida senior, will look to add more All-American honors to her resume with the Gators seeded 6th in the relay. After missing much of 2011, Usery returned late in the outdoor season to help Florida to an All-American placing in the 4×400. Like Daniels, Olivia Lewis, began her career  at the junior college level. The former multiple state champion at Gateway High School in St. Louis, the Texas Tech junior started at New Mexico Junior College. The Red Raiders are seeded 10th with a mark of 3:34.51. Usery’s former teammate at Berkeley, Kianna Ruff will run in the relay for the second straight year. The Tennessee sophomore and 400/800 standout will look to improve on an eleven seed to earn All-American honors. Ruff earned All-American honors in the 4×400 outdoors for the Volunteers.
The pole vault will see two fifth-year seniors who were the 2007 Class 3 and Class 4 Missouri State High School Champions compete. Arkansas’ Tara Diebold will look to add to her multiple All-American honors. The three-time Branson State Champ in Class 3, who was fourth at State in the vault as a freshman, is seeded in a tie for third with a season best of 14-4. Bussel is the former Class 4 State Champ and all-stater at Jefferson City. Bussel was the Big Ten Champion this season for Nebraska and is making her first nationals apperance. Having already joined former Jefferson City teammate Vera Neuenswander as a fellow Big Ten Champion at Indiana, Bussel will now try join Neuenswander as an All-American. Bussel just squeaked in. She’s one of four to clear 13-10.5, but that mark sits at 16th on the national list, just one centimeter behind the 12-15th seeds, closer than others on the bubble in their events, leaving other events with less than the average of 16 per event.
Emily Sisson makes her first NCAA Indoors appearance. After a 14th place finish at the 2010 NCAA cross country meet, Sisson missed the 2011 Indoor season and much of the outdoor season with injury. Sisson returned in late April of 2011 and after a great Big 10 meet and NCAA preliminary round, Sisson placed 10th at the Outdoors 5,000 in 15:53. Sisson transferred to Providence over the summer. The Lady Friars were ranked in the top 5 much of the 2011 cross country season. Sisson sat out atleast two meets with health/injury issues. The Friars were expected to coast through regionals without Sisson, but a nightmarish regional race ended the 20+ year nationals apperance streak for Coach Irv Ray’s team, and Sisson’s chance at more All-American honors and her first team trophy. Sisson will look for her first indoor honors in the 3,000 where she’s seeded 7th with a time of 9:06. Sisson should have an advantage on several athletes in the race because of the schedule. A handful or more of her competitors will race the mile prelims, distance medley relay, or 5,000 on Friday evening with the 3,000 to come on Saturday evening.
Baylor sophomore hurdler/sprinter Tiffani McReynolds will look to surprise the field like she did in 2011 at her first NCAA meet where she took 2nd in the 60 meter hurdles. After that indoor finish, the Kansas City, Kansas native who was a Missouri State Champ at Pembroke Hill, was probably disappointed with the results at the  outdoor NCAA meet last June. McReynolds didn’t advance to the 100 hurdles final and her 4×100 squad couldn’t earn a top eight finish to qualify for the short relay final. Though qualifying for three NCAA events as a freshman including a runner-up finish is outstanding. McReynolds is seeded 9th with a time of 8.15.
The second Baylor qualifier with Missouri ties is former Ladue High School star Erin Atkinson. Atkinson makes her first NCAA meet in the weight throw. After a year at Southern Illinois, Atkinson transferred to Baylor, where she’s one of two female bears to qualify in the throws. Atkinson is seeded 13th in the weight throw with a mark of 68-4.5.
After a break-out junior year Florida State’s Maurice Mitchell returns for his senior year. At the 2011 Indoor NCAA Meet, Mitchell missed his first NCAA title by 2/1000ths of a second in the 200. He placed 2nd to Oklahoma’s Rakieem Salaam, both in 20.41. Mitchell followed that with a 3rd place 60 meter finish the next day in 6.64. At the 2011 Outdoor NCAA meet Mitchell and teammate Ngoni Makusha almost lead the Seminoles to the team title. With Makusha settting a collegiate record of 9.89 in the 100, Mitchell finished third in 10.00 behind Salaam in 9.97 with a +1.3 wind. The following day Mitchell made his voice heard, first in the 4×100. After a first pass of the baton that took seemingly forever and was almost out of the exchange zone, Makusha made up ground and got the baton to Mitchell. Mitchell flew around the curve into first place handing the baton to Brandon Byram who brought home the title in 38.77. Without the rough first hand-off, FSU probably would have set the stadium record of 38.42 and possibly the collegeiate and meet record of 38.04. 30 minutes later Mitchell took to the track with the 200 title on the line. There was no doubt. He blistered the track, blowing away the field in the 200. Mitchell ran a wind-aided 19.99, winning by almost 4/10ths! of a second. The runner-up: 20.38. Mitchell roared after crossing the tape, letting out a celebratory scream.
Makusha won the long jump in 27-6, becoming just the third man to ever run sub 10.00 in the 100 and jumping farther than 27 feet in the long jump. He joined Carl Lewis and new Missouri short sprints/horizontal jumps coach Kareem Street-Thompson as the only in the elite club.
Makusha and Salaam both turned pro and after a 4th place 200 finish at the 2011 USA Champs that was a possiblitiy for Mitchell. But with Walter Dix having stayed his senior year at Florida State in 2008 after previous NCAA titles, he proved the plan to return to win NCAA titles and then earn Olympic medals in the same seson was possible. Returning must have been the best decision for Mitchell. Mitchell is tied for 7th in the 60 meters with a time of 6.61. His time of 20.70 makes him the third seed.
The latest University of Missouri NCAA Qualifier in the 800 is Ricky West of Canada. West continues the long tradition of success for Mizzou in the 800. West captured the Big 12 title two weeks ago and his time of 1:47.81 makes him the 7th seed.
Former Missouri Gatorade Athlete of the Year and Missouri State Champ Nick Happe showed he’s got some wheels this season. The third-year sophomore indoors for Arizona State, Happe is seeded 9th in the mile with a time of 3:58.73 at last weeks UW Final Qualifier. The 2009 Class 4 Missouri State Champ at both the 1600 and 3200 posted a 9:02/4 in the 3200 as a senior at Francis Howell North. Happe’s making his first NCAA Track Meet appearance , after a previous NCAA Cross Country team appearance for the Sun Devils.
Rounding out the group of Missouri qualifiers is Missouri junior long jumper Malcom Pennix. The Indiana native who competed at Kansas City Community College,  is in his first year at Mizzou. Pennix won the 2010 National Junior College Championship long jumpand and his mark of 25-4.75 ties him for the 7th seed.
The 2012 NCAA DI Meet gets under way Friday morning and conclude Saturday night. 

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