March 5, 2009
MEMPHIS, Tenn. - The University of Memphis track and field team sends three athletes to the Last Chance Meet in Fayetteville, Ark. on Friday, March 6.
Representing the Tigers will be Aaron Evans who will compete in the 800m run, Aaron Whetstone who has entered in the triple jump and Sivan Aballi who will throw the shot put.
"I feel very confident that all three athletes are ready to perform at the highest level," said head coach Kevin Robinson. "Arkansas has a phenomenal facility. The athletes are ready, the competition will be there, and now it is just a matter of putting the performance up when it counts the most."
As a freshman, Evans led the way for the Tigers in the 800m run. He finished in first-place at the EIU Mega Meet in a time of 1:53.94. At the Rod McCravy Invitational on Feb. 7, he finished the 800m run in third-place with a personal record and NCAA provisional qualifying time of 1:50.18. At the 2009 C-USA Indoor Track and Field Championships, in the 800m run he passed two runners in the final 50 meters to take second-place. He was the anchor leg of the Tigers' 4x400m relay team that placed third at the C-USA Championships.
"I think Aaron (Evans) is in a position that if he's running against somebody with like ability, that he will perform at a high level," said Robinson. This is only his fourth indoor race of his life and he's still trying to figure it out."
On the season, Whetstone has recorded three first place finishes in the triple jump at the EIU Mega Meet, the SIU McDonalds Invitational, and the Redhawk Invitational. His second place finishes have come at the Rod McCravy Invitational and at the C-USA Indoor Championships. His best mark on the season came in the finals at the C-USA Championships. He recorded a personal record and NCAA provisional mark of 15.44m (50-08.00).
"Aaron (Whetstone) has jumped very far every single meet that we've been to, but just finally got a big jump on the board this past weekend at the conference meet," said Robinson. "I think it is a great opportunity for both Aaron (Evans) and Aaron (Whetstone) initially because they are young and still maturing into the elite level competitors that we thought they would be when they got here,"
Aballi has thrown an NCAA provisional mark in four out of five meets that she has competed in during the 2009 indoor track and field season. At the Rod McCravy meet on Feb. 7, she recorded her personal best mark in the shot put with a throw of 16.03m (52-07.25). Aballi's mark currently ranks 13th in the NCAA rankings. She won the shot put event at the 2009 C-USA Indoor Track and Field Championships on Feb. 28 with a mark of 15.92m (52-02.75).
"For Sivan (Aballi), this is an old hat for her," said Robinson. "She is in her fifth year. In past years, she has qualified three times and not gotten in to the championship. Right now she is right on the bubble and if they hosted the meet tomorrow, she'd be in for sure. Every day in training, Sivan is throwing far enough to be an All-American, but we just have to get it when it counts."
These three athletes have recorded NCAA provisional marks and are looking to improve on their performances. Steffen Nerdal is the only Tiger to have recorded an NCAA Automatic mark in the weight throw with a personal record mark of 21.56m (70-09.00). The trio competing this weekend hopes to join Nerdal to compete at the NCAA Indoor Championships in College Station, Texas.
"I expect each of our athletes to really do a great job," said Robinson. "All we have to do is hit it at the right time and at the right place. We have everything in order this weekend. We're healthy, motivated and ready to go."