NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Behind her lay numerous Belmont Track and Field and Ohio Valley Conference records accumulated over the last four years while before senior Hannah Wittman (Lindenhurst, Ill.) stands the historic Hayward Field at the University of Oregon, site of this week's NCAA Division I Outdoor Track and Field Championships.
Wittman battled from behind in the semifinals of the 10,000m at the East Preliminary Round, hosted by the University of Florida late last month, to punch her ticket to the nationally-televised final race in the event. She finished 12th overall with a time of 34:41.48 in the East region to qualify for the national championship.
This marks the second time this season the distance runner has advanced to the national stage after having ran at the 2015 NCAA Cross Country Championship in the fall, where she finished in the top-85. Wittman becomes the first Belmont women's track athlete to qualify for Regionals since Lynette Rives in 2009.
Wittman's path to Eugene was started when she broke the BU record in the 10,000m in a grueling race at the historic Mt. SAC Relays in April. Her time of 33:59.63 gave her fifth overall finish in the field, shattering the program record set by Belmont great Keely Weaver that had remained untouched since the year 2000.
The Linden, Ill., native's qualifying time currently stands as the 32nd fastest in the nation and was the best in the Ohio Valley Conference by nearly 90 seconds all season. On Thursday, she will vie against 23 of the nation's best in the event, 12 from each of the preliminary rounds hosted by the University of North Florida and the University of Kansas.
The 2016 NCAA Division I Men's and Women's Outdoor Track and Field Championship will be contested at historic Hayward Field on the campus of the University of Oregon. The national final for the 10,000m is set for Thursday, June 9 at 9:08 p.m. CT and will be shown live on ESPN.
Live stats for the NCAA Track and Field Championships will be available. The entire meet, June 8-11, will be broadcast on the ESPN family of networks. More information about the event can be found here: www.ncaa.com/trackandfield.