LEXINGTON, Ky. - The Boilermakers advanced five more entries to the NCAA Championships on Saturday at the East Preliminary Rounds. The team now has a combined 10 entries for the national championship meet in two weeks.
"I thought we had a great meet. The kids competed well," head coach Lonnie Greene said. "I was disappointed that the men's 4x1 got disqualified because they had a great race and just missed the school record. Aside from that, it was a good meet. From J-Vet (Justin Veteto) running what he did and Eric Blackman jumping well to get in - that was phenomenal. I thought our women competed exceedingly well all three days across the board. We held true to form and got back nearly everyone we thought we would. The kids represented the university very well."
The women's 4x400-meter relay team wrapped up the day with a school record and heat win to advance to the national championships. Symone Black, who has already qualified for NCAAs in the 400m hurdles, led off and gave the Boilermakers a lead out of lane 9. Then it was Carmiesha Cox's turn and she kept the Boilermakers in the top three. Chloe Abbott then took the stick and put Purdue back out front. The freshman split 52.28 seconds, the fastest split of anyone in the third leg, before handing to the anchor, Brionna Thomas. Thomas relaxed through the first 200 meters, before overpowering the rest of the field to cross the line with a time of 3:30.70. Thomas' split was 52.01 seconds. The team's time broke the previous school record by exactly one second and was the third fastest overall time to advance out of the region.
"We have a very good women's team - top to bottom," Greene said. "We have a nationally ranked program. We show up to a meet and people pay attention to what we are doing. That wasn't always the case. Now, we have developed into one of the national powerhouses in women's track & field. The number of compliments that were paid to our program and university for our Big Ten championship and performances at the meet let us know that Purdue has arrived. With the type of program we have, I knew our relay would do what they did. I think we can run 3:28 at the national championship and make the final. We have that in us."
Devynne Charlton also broke a school record to advance. She ran a wind-legal (+0.2) time of 12.87 seconds in the 100m hurdles to win her heat by 0.27 of a second. The junior's time was the second fastest in all the quarterfinals and she was one of just three individuals to break the 13-second mark.
"Devynne was phenomenal. She stepped away from the field," Greene said. "At the NCAAs, she could run 12.60 or better. She has that in her. In that type of environment, she can do that. She was great."
Charlton also advanced as a member of the 4x100-meter relay. She ran the lead leg of the relay, before handing to Cox. Cox then handed to Savannah Roberson, who carried the stick before giving way to Savannah Carson. The team ran a season-best time of 43.70 seconds, which was fourth in the heat. The time would hold on to be the fastest non-automatic qualifier and the eighth fastest overall, earning the team a spot in the national championships. The time ranks second in school history, just 0.04 of a second off the program record.
Justin Veteto earned his first career berth in the national championships with a huge personal record in the 110-meter hurdles. The junior had the last at-large spot to even qualify for the quarterfinal, but then ran the best race of his career. Veteto posted a wind-legal time of 13.85 seconds, which was fifth in his heat. It was also the 11th fastest time overall in the quarterfinals and earned him the final at-large spot in the national championships. Veteto's time ranks seventh in program history and is the fastest by a Boilermaker since 2014.
"Justin committed to what he wanted to do and executed," Greene said. "He committed to competing hard and running a great race. We have known he's had that in him. He had a race where he went for it and it worked."
Eric Blackman had to come up clutch on third attempts twice in the men's high jump to earn a spot in the national championships. He cleared 2.00m (6-6.75) on his first attempt with ease. However, severe weather moved in soon after and the competition was suspended for about three and a half hours. Blackman came back and missed his first attempt at 2.05m (6-8.75), before clearing on his second. Then at 2.10m (6-10.75), Blackman missed twice and needed a clearance on his third attempt to have a chance a qualifying. He cleared. Next, the bar was raised to 2.15m (7-0.50). Again, Blackman missed twice at the bar and was on the outside looking in at a berth in the national championships. He put together his best approach of the afternoon and cleared, making him one of just seven to make it over that height. Blackman will make his first trip to the NCAA Championships.
The men's 4x100-meter relay team thought it had earned an improbable spot in the national championships, as the team entered the meet 22nd in the region. The team of Gerald McGee, Shawndail McLaren, Kyle Webb and Waseem Williams came out of lane 2 and ran a time of 39.39 seconds, just 0.01 of a second off the school record. That was the second fastest non-automatic qualifier. However, the race went under review and it was discovered there was a lane line violation, which disqualified the time and eliminated the team from qualifying for the NCAA Championships.
Anaquan Peterson narrowly missed qualifying in the men's triple jump. He had a best of 15.62m (51-3), which came on his third and final attempt. That put him in the top 10, before three individuals would pass him and bump him to 13th. Peterson's best mark was the same as the 12th-place individual, which meant qualifying came down to the second best jump, which favored Klyvens Delaunay of Alabama. Peterson finishes his career as a Big Ten champion in the event after winning two weeks ago.
The men's 4x400m relay narrowly missed advancing in the final event of the day. The team of Kinard Rolle, Webb, Veteto and McLaren finished fourth in their heat with a time of 3:07.30. That was 0.43 of a second off of earning an automatic berth.
The Boilermakers now prepare for the NCAA Championships, hosted by the University of Oregon. That meet takes place from June 7 through June 10.