Jacob Fincham-Dukes continued his breakout sophomore season with a national qualifying, and school record, jump of 7.96m/26-1.5 feet, and the Cowboys sent two to the 10,000-meter final in Eugene, Thursday the NCAA West Preliminary Rounds in Austin, Texas.
The sophomore Big 12 Champion landed the record-setting mark with his first jump of the day.
"It was his first time on this track and dealing with this kind of heat," jumps coach Zivile Pukstiene said. "So for him to do it on his first jump was awesome for him. He had a huge third jump that turned out to be a scratch, but the confidence is definitely there."
Fincham-Dukes' wind-legal personal best was enough to give him a third-place finish and advance the England international to his first NCAA Outdoor Championship and second NCAA championship event of the season.
"That first jump took all that pressure away," Fincham-Dukes said. "I was hoping I would get that first jump so the stress would go away and then I tried to go for it on the third one."
He has the chance to become the first Cowboy to receive first-team All-America honors in the outdoor long jump. Earlier this year, he took 10th at the NCAA Indoor Championships.
"I'm going there to win," Fincham-Dukes said. "There's no reason to go for anything else."
Fincham-Dukes' weekend in Austin isn't over, yet. He takes to the track Saturday evening as a member of the Cowboy 4X100-meter relay team.
This season, Fincham-Dukes' 10.56-second open 100-meter dash was the fastest time of the season by a Cowboy.
At the end of the night, Hassan Abdi and Sylvester Barus both clinched berths in the 10,000-meter final in Eugene, taking 11th and 12th, respectively.
"I just wanted to qualify for nationals," Barus said. "The last lap was kind of hard and I thought I wasn't going to make it, but I heard the coaches cheering for me and I put some extra effort into that last 100 meters."
Abdi's place in the Championship race puts him in position to earn All-America honors in all three NCAA athletics seasons. He finished 16th at the NCAA Cross Country Championships and ran the anchor-leg for the Cowboy DMR team at the indoor championships back in March.
It will be Barus' first NCAA Track and Field Championships appearance, but the Cowboy Jamboree champion has scored three all-Big 12 honors and an all-region honor for the Pokes in his debut season.
"My plan was to just stay back until the last 5K and then move with the group," Abdi said. "With like 200 meters to go, coach told me to take it easy so I eased up a bit and a few guys passed me, but we still made it."
Two Cowboys advanced to Saturday's 1,500-meter quarterfinal, earning automatic places.
Josh Thompson took heat one in 3:59.08 and Craig Nowak finished second in the final heat. Despite clocking the fastest time by a Cowboy on the day, Sukhi Khosla just missed out on a time qualifying spot and took 18th overall.
The redshirt freshman's season comes to a close having scored at both the indoor and outdoor Big 12 Championships and advancing to the West Prelims at the first time of asking.
"He had a great year," Smith said. "All of a sudden he hit his stride in the middle of the year and ran fast at Arkansas and kind of got on a roll. I know he's disappointed, but he ran a really good race and he just ran out of gas and that's part of being a freshman. He'll come back here next year a much different athlete."
Senior All-American and Big 12 1,500-meter champion Kaela Edwards cruised to the quarterfinal behind a strong final lap that earned her the heat win and an automatic place.
Edwards was supposed to be joined in the prelim by fellow senior Savannah Camacho, but the Cowgirl All-American suffered an injury.
"I'm heartbroken for Savannah," Smith said. "I think she's in the best shape she's ever been and I think she was a threat to contend at the national championships in the 1,500."
Camacho has been a key member of the Cowgirl team since her freshman year. She is a four-time All-American and a four-time Big 12 Champion whose name is all over the Cowgirl record book.
While her Cowgirl career was cut short, her contributions to the team go beyond her accolades on the track.
"I hate to see someone who has done so much for our program not be able to run to end her career," Smith said. "But I think there are bigger and better things coming for her."
The women's 800-meter preliminary round saw four Cowgirls clinch spots in the quarterfinal.
Kaylee Dodd's heat win earned her the four-seed heading into tomorrow's quarterfinal, and Kaytlyn Larson won heat two to earn the Cowgirls' second automatic place. Abbie Hetherington and Ambra Wesley ran in the fastest heat of the day, and their kicks around the final turn paid off as the duo advanced on time.
"You have to be top-three to automatically qualify for Eugene, and we're running for top-three tomorrow," Smith said. "Right now, Kaylee Dodd looks really good. If Kaytlyn Larson can figure out how good she is between now and tomorrow, she has a good chance to advance too.
"Ambra, who is just learning the race, keeps surprising us with her performances, and Abbie showed a lot of grit and determination to come back in that last 80 meters," Smith said.
Day two of the West Prelims kicks off at noon for OSU with Ieva Zarankaite in the discus throw.
The women's 800-meter quarterfinal is scheduled for 6:30 p.m., and the women's and men's steeplechase close competition for the Pokes Friday at 8:20 and 9 p.m., respectively.
NCAA West Preliminary Rounds | Austin, Texas | May 25, 2017
800 Meter First Round
4. Kaylee Dodd – 2:07.29Q
15. Abbie Hetherington – 2:08.82q
18. Ambra Wesley – 2:09.09q
25. Kaytlyn Larson – 2:10.03Q
--. Clara Nichols – DNF
1,500 Meter First Round
28. Kaela Edwards – 4:32.84Q
37. Megan Honas – 41.77m/137-0
1,500 Meter First Round
18. Sukhi Khosla – 3:54.31
20. Craig Nowak – 3:54.90Q
31. Josh Thompson – 3:59.08Q
45. Matthew Fayers – 4:04.70
48. Brigham Hedges – 4:13.91
10,000 Meter Semifinal
11. Hassan Abdi – 29:59.42Q
12. Sylvester Barus – 30:10.61Q
3. Jacob Fincham-Dukes – 7.96m/26-1.5Q