GREENSBORO, N.C. -
The Red Storm enjoyed a stellar first day at the NCAA East Regional at North Carolina AT&T in Greensboro, N.C. on Thursday highlighted by senior Molly Ellis'
qualification for the quarterfinal round of the 400-meter dash.
Ellis, who placed second in the fifth heat and 16th overall in the preliminary round with a time of 53.35 seconds, will attempt to book her ticket to the NCAA Final in Eugene, Ore. from June 5-8 by finishing in the top 12 out of the remaining 24 athletes in Friday's quarterfinals.
Ellis, who holds the second-fastest time in school history with a personal-best time of 52.77, entered the East Regional ranked 10th and would be making her first trip to the NCAA Final.
"Molly demonstrated why she has become one of the top 400-meter runners in the nation as she executed her race perfectly to advance to the second round," said St. John's head coach Jim Hurt. "She and coach (Yvonne) Harrison have worked hard all year to get to this level and we look forward to her racing toward Eugene on (Friday)."
Also representing the Red Storm on the first day of the East Regional was junior Shayna Presley, who not only set a personal record in the 400-meter hurdles but in the process put a serious scare into the St. John's school record. Running in the fifth heat, the junior crossed the line in fifth place in 59.49, good for 29th overall and a mere 0.05 off of Shameeka Quallo's school record set in 1998. After entering the East Regional ranked 44th, Presley, whose previous personal best was 59.64, missed qualifying for the semifinals by just five places.
"Shayna ran a great race posting her all-time best and placing in the top 29 in the East region," said Hurt. "We take great pride in her success and all the hard work she and Coach Harrison have put in to get to this level."
On Saturday, Ellis and Presley will combine with senior Trudy-Ann McLean and sophomore Claire Mooney in attempting to send the Red Storm's 4x400-meter relay to the NCAA Final. St. John's is ranked 14th heading into the semifinals with a season-best time of 3:36.41.
Stay up to date with all St. John's track & field news at RedStormSports.com and by following the team on Twitter, @STJ_TRACK_XC.