Garcia hits NCAA automatic qualifying mark at OBU Invitational

UCO Sports
Chris Brannick, Director of Sports Media Relations

SHAWNEE, Okla. – The University of Central Oklahoma’s first female outdoor track & field national champion has already in just her second meet of the season secured a spot in this season’s national championships.

Mariah Garcia took first-place in the discus throw Saturday at the OBU Invitational with a personal best and school-record throw of 177 feet, 7 inches. The NCAA automatic qualifying mark – which sends athletes straight to the national championships in Bradenton, Fla. this May – is 163 feet, 7 inches.

“I’m so proud of Mariah for continuing to get better,” UCO head coach Dr. Martha Brennan said. “She won a national championship, but she threw better than that today. She wants to keep getting better and that is such a key part of being a great athlete. I’m very proud of her.”

Garcia Friday hit a provisional qualifying mark in the hammer throw, and set another school record in doing so, with her 190 foot, 7 inch throw.

Madeline Caldwell was second in the discus at 128 feet, 11 inches. Caldwell took first in the shot put with a throw of 39 feet, 7 3/4 inches.

Daniella Szabo also earned a first-place finish Saturday, taking the top prize in the triple jump with a mark of 36 feet, 2 3/4 inches. Szabo was second in the long jump after hitting 18 feet, 3 1/4 inches.

The Bronchos picked up several big finishes from their track athletes Saturday as well.

Ashlyn Carroll continued her impressive spring, finishing second in the 100-meter hurdles Saturday at the OBU Invitational.

Carroll hit a provisional qualifying mark in the heptathlon last week. Saturday, she just missed another PQ, but her 15.12 second finish was enough to get her in second place.

“Ashlyn is a veteran on this team and we saw why today,” UCO head coach Dr. Martha Brennan said. “She is a great athlete and she did really well today.”

Bailee Thomas and Ashley Hughes weren’t far behind either. Thomas finished fifth with a time of 15.57 and Hughes finished in 15.97 for a sixth-place mark.

“Those girls are so competitive with each other,” Brennan said. “They make each other better all the time. And it’s really fun to see them compete like that against each other. Three in the top six, that’s great.”

Erin Drewke, Harley Wright, and Kira Douglas also raced in the finals. Drewke finished 13th with a time of 17.49, Wright was 15th at 18.09, and Douglas was 17th at 18.60.

Carroll, Hughes, and Thomas weren’t done on the day either.

The trio showed the same dominance in the 400m hurdles. Hughes was the top Broncho this time, taking third with a time of 1:07.71. Carroll and Thomas finished fifth and sixth respectively, but the margin between the two couldn’t get any close. Carroll finished in 1:08.44, Thomas in 1:08.45.

Douglas took eighth in the 400 hurdles with her 1:12.21 mark, Rachel Davis’ 1:21.23 mark got her ninth place, and Wright made it six Bronchos in the top-10 with her 1:12.61 finish.

Adrian Sloan also managed a top-10 finish in the 200-meter dash, finishing ninth with a time of 26.90 seconds. In the 400m, Sloan took 12th place with a 1:03.78 mark.

The Bronchos next week will split up, with some heading to Austin, Texas for the Texas Relays, and others heading to Emporia, Kan. for the ESU Relays.