TERRE HAUTE —
Indiana State freshman and Terre Haute North graduate John Mascari is among the enormous group of Sycamores competing this weekend at the NCAA East Preliminary.
The top 48 NCAA track and field competitors in each event on this half of the United States are narrowed down to 12 who will compete at the NCAA meet at Hayward Field in Eugene, Ore.
The 23 competitors is the most the Sycamores have had in the field.
“It’s cool. It just feels like a normal meet traveling with the team. It’s a fun weekend for us all,” said Mascari, who already made the NCAA Championships last fall in cross country in his first year as a collegiate competitor.
Running the 10,000 in track and field is comparable to cross country, he said. Tonight’s race, which is at 9:40 p.m., is his fourth of the outdoor season.
“It’s like cross country races. Hoping tomorrow night I’ll be feeling fresh,” Mascari said on Thursday.
Mascari goes into the action at UNC Greensboro with the 23rd best time in the nation in the 10,000 meters and right on the edge at 12th in the East.
Mascari’s school-record time of 29:19.74 at the Drake Relays was almost a month ago, but Mascari followed that with a Missouri Valley Conference title two weeks ago.
“I usually just go in there and see what happens and try to do some damage,” Mascari said. “I think I do have a pretty good chance of making it out [to the NCAA Championships]. I just want to hold on. I just have to stay humble and hungry. It’s all about place, time’s irrelevant.”
The Sycamores have 22 other athletes competing in Greensboro, N.C., and many are seniors like Dustin Betz, who competes Friday in the 3,000 steeplechase.
“This is it. This could potentially be my last race,” Betz said Wednesday. “This has been my best year. Throughout college, I’ve been progressing ever year. 8:56 at Drake has been my best. I feel myself continuing to improve.”
• Maurice Lyke will be making his second straight trip to the NCAAs and will compete in two events at the East Preliminary. The junior ranks 26th in the nation and 13th on the East performance list in the 110 meter hurdles with a time of 13.83 seconds. He will also be competing in the long jump after winning the 2013 MVC title with a leap of 24-5 3/4. The distance ranks 27th in the East.
• Lyke is joined by junior hurdler Greggmar Swift in the 110 hurdles. Swift ranks eighth in the NCAA.
Three more hurdlers competing this weekend are Jonathan Jackson, Max Tuttle and Arqeil Shaw in the 400 hurdles.
• Four men have qualified to compete in field events as Chris Fields, Brandon Pounds, Derek Bunch, and Justin Applegate will try to advance.
Pounds leads that group with a ranking of 13th in the NCAA in the hammer throw. Bunch ranks 42nd in the East in the shot put, and Fields is 48th in the East in the shot put.
• For the ISU women, Leeann Michl (40th in the East in the 800), Katie Wise (11.41 in the 100 meters for ninth in the East) and Stacia Weatherford (15th in NCAA in 400 meter-hurdles, 100-meter hurdles) will compete on the track.
They will be joined by the 400-meter relay team of Kaisha Martin, Macey Black, Demetra Camble and Wise. The team ranks 64th in the nation and 15th on the East performance list.
Three pole vaulters, a jumper and a thrower have also qualified as Nicole Hope, Kimyanna Rudolph, Richelle Kimble — three pole vaulters — and Shalesa Smith (triple jump) and Felisha Johnson (shot put, hammer throw, discus) — are also competing.
It is the third straight year that Johnson will compete in the postseason in all three events.