PHOENIX – Arizona State arrived in Arkansas with 30 Sun Devils who qualified for the West Preliminary that takes place through Saturday at John McDonnell Field in Fayetteville.
The preliminaries of the NCAA Division I Men’s and Women’s Outdoor Track and Field Championships determine who heads to Hayward Field for the NCAA Championships that span from June 8-11 in Eugene, Oregon.
The top 12 event finishers and the best 12 relay teams at both the West and the East preliminary meets will punch their tickets to Eugene. The East Preliminary is running concurrently in Bloomington, Indiana.
ASU graduate student Jorinde van Klinken and sophomore Jamar Marshall Jr. both enter prelims with the top seeds in the West Region in their respective events.
Van Klinken is coming off winning a pair of Pac-12 Championship titles after triumphing in the shot put and discus.
Marshall Jr. not only won the 110-meter hurdles at the Pac-12 Championships, but the sophomore from Stockton, California, also set a new school record at 13.39 seconds in the process.
“You just gotta act like you’ve been there before,” Marshall Jr. said going into prelims. Last year as a freshman, he advanced out of prelims and later placed fifth overall at the NCAA Championships. “It’s not a surprise to me … you’ve still got people coming for you. You’ve still got to race against them. My rankings go out the window as soon as I tie my shoes … track is tricky, you just never know what could happen. Running a 13.39 gives me a little head confidence, but I know I can go harder.”
In the women’s 100-meter hurdles, graduate student Cortney Jones sits on the bubble as the 14th seed, but the graduate student and former Florida State Seminoles runner brings the Sun Devils a plethora of championship-level experience.
“Since this is my sixth year being in college, taking every experience that I’ve had freshman year to now, I feel like it’s so much easier to just go win without the expectations and the nerves and anxiety because I know what to expect,” Jones said ahead of prelims. “Honestly, it’s just about having fun at this point. I’ve been doing it for so long there’s nothing else to do. We’ve done the work. Now it’s just time to have fun.”
After suffering a right-knee patella tendon injury after slipping during shot put warmups in the wet conditions in Oregon at the Pac-12 Championships earlier in May, ASU’s Turner Washington said his knee is now healthy. Washington took home gold in both the shot put and discus last year at the NCAA Championships, but the senior currently sits in second in the shot and third in the discus in the West Region.
“The knee’s feeling pretty good,” Turner Washington said on the eve of the NCAA West Regional Prelims. “It feels pretty solid. I’m back to being able to do everything I was able to do prior.”
“I’m just keeping my cool,” Washington added. “I’ve been in this situation before and these meets before … there’s nothing to stress about. It’s just another meet, just another opportunity to throw in front of people and put on a show.”
“Turner’s gonna be fine,” ASU coach Dion Miller said. “He’s here ready to go. We’re excited to see him compete, and we expect great things out of Turner.”
Freshman Ralford Mullings, the second-seed in the discus, and graduate student Beatrice Llano and redshirt junior Shelby Moran, who are sitting at fifth and eighth in the women’s hammer throw, are some of the other Sun Devils to watch out for this weekend.
“Obviously there’s a bevy of expectations,” Miller said. “For our freshman to come in, I definitely want them to get the experience of what a national championship meet is like. For the rest of the team, it’s all about surviving and advancing … that’s the goal and the plan is to get back to Oregon.”
This weekend’s action in Arkansas will be streamed exclusively on SEC Network+ with coverage starting Wednesday at 4 p.m. MST.