May 26, 2012
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Louisiana Tech punched two more tickets to Des Moines as Kim Francis and the women’s 4x100-meter relay team advanced to the NCAA Championships as action concluded at the NCAA East Preliminary Championships at Hodges Stadium in Jacksonville Saturday evening.
A school record relay time and another great race by Francis gives Louisiana Tech six women advancing to the NCAA Championships in four events on June 6-9 in Des Moines, Iowa.
The women’s 4x100-meter relay ran a school record time of 44.11, finishing second in its heat and third overall with a quartet of junior Kimberly Smith, redshirt senior Chelsea Hayes, senior Stacia Hanneman and freshman Victoria Wade.
That record was close to not even being a mark at all as Hayes and Hanneman struggled with the handoff between the second and third legs.
“Chelsea ran up on me quickly – faster than normal – and it was hard for her to get the stick in my hand,” Hanneman recalled. “We didn’t panic and I was determined to get the stick in my hand in the exchange zone and to get it around the track. It was a good thing we didn’t panic.”
Hayes entered the second exchange zone in the lead but came up on Hanneman faster than normal, something that almost doomed the relay.
“When I was running to her I thought we were fine since we had the lead. But when I was running up to her, the first time I tried handing it off to her it didn’t go. It was iffy as we were getting closer to the exchange line and I just yelled, ‘Stacia!’ We really didn’t panic – well, I kind of panicked – but we still got the stick around.”
“I am very excited [about advancing to Des Moines],” Hanneman said. “I know I have had some disappointments in my open events this season. With these four girls, I am just glad we are able to make it to nationals as a team.”
Francis also focused on a strong improvement in her event and performed remarkably so after running a personal record time of 13.23 in the 100m hurdles Friday. She came back Saturday in a heat with three hurdlers with more than a tenth-of-a-second opening round time faster than her.
After a slow start out of the blocks and over the first hurdle, Francis charged back to finish fourth in a dramatic race. She ended the competition barely edging Central Florida’s Karessa Farley by four-thousandths of a second (0.004) for the 12th and final spot for the national championship meet.
“I am speechless,” said Francis after the race. “At the beginning of the year, I was positive but had a rough middle of the year and didn’t think I would be able to do it. The time I ran yesterday (13.23), I never thought I would ever run that. I thought it was over for me but I never gave up and did what I love to do and that is compete. I just kept on going and I am just speechless. I don’t even know who to call and tell right now, I am speechless.”
Francis had entered the NCAA East Prelims ranked 23rd in the meet and came away finishing 12th.
On the men’s side, Trey Hadnot ran 21.05 in the 200-meter quarterfinal round to finish 21st. The men’s 4x100-meter relay team of Kendall Hayes, Dennis Richardson, Hadnot and Ed Ivory ran 41.16 to finish 21st overall.
Louisiana Tech now turns its attention to the NCAA Championships where the Lady Techsters have six women competing in four events, including Chelsea Hayes qualifying in three separate events – the 100-meter dash, the long jump and as a part of the 4x100-meter relay.
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