WMU - McDaniel Qualifies for NCAA Championships

WMU - McDaniel Qualifies for NCAA Championships

Provided by WMU

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Western Michigan freshman Maria McDaniel punched her ticket to Eugene, Ore., and the 2015 NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships after qualifying in the 5,000-meter run late Saturday night at the NCAA East Preliminary Championships.

To qualify McDaniel needed to finish in the top five of her heat or have the two next-best times and she finished sixth in her heat but claimed the final spot with a time of 16:13.99. She won the final spot by .99 seconds over Jill Whitman from Indiana.

"Going in with the final heat you always have to look at it like 'what do we need to run to get the at-large qualifying time,'" said assistant coach Rebekah Smeltzer, who handles the distance runners for WMU. "We talked about being patient at the beginning, knowing that she is much better during the second-half of the race."

McDaniel got off to a bit of a slow start and was second-to-last during the first two laps. After increasing the pace she moved up to the chase pack and then took initiative and ran her race. She got as high as fourth but was passed during the final lap to finish in sixth.

McDaniel heads to the University of Oregon in to weeks for a chance on the national stage and All-American status.