May 16, 2013
NEW ORLEANS - Five Tulane Green Wave track and field athletes qualified to compete in the NCAA East Regionals -held in Greensboro, N.C. - announced the NCAA on Thursday.
Junior pole vaulter Joanna Lapucha, sophomore pole vaulter Merritt Van Meter and sophomore triple jumper Estefany Cruz will represent the women's side of the Green Wave track and field squad while two members of the men's squad - sophomore discus thrower Thomas Lynch and freshman long jumper Devon Breaux - will compete.
The five individual athletes competing are the most since the Greenies sent five individual athletes to compete in seven different events during the 2009 Outdoor Regionals. In both 2010 and 2011, three individuals and a relay team qualified, while four individual competitors qualified in 2012.
Lynch and Breaux represent the first male Tulane track and field athletes to qualify for a regional event, as the NCAA first implemented Outdoor Regional Championships prior to the 2003 season. Tulane fielded a men's track and field team in 2005 for a season after a two-year hiatus, and brought the program back again in 2009 after Hurricane Katrina forced its cancellation for the seasons between 2006-08.
"I feel good about the direction that our program is moving," said Tulane director of track and field Eric Peterson.
Van Meter owns the tenth best mark in the pole vault in the East Regionals, as she notched a 4.11 meter (13' 5.75") at the Sun Angel Classic in early April. The mark was a personal best for her, as well as a Tulane school record. Just last week, Van Meter won the individual event title in the pole vault, earning her All-Conference USA honors.
Cruz - who will only compete in the triple jump during the East Regionals - scored four points for the women's team during the league championships last weekend, placing fifth in the triple jump. However, her longest jump on the season was captured on March 30, when she leapt 12.56 meters (41' 2.5") at the Stanford Invitational.
"It's not surprising for any of us to see our pole vaulters and a triple jumper representing us on the women's side in the NCAA Regionals," added Peterson. "Those were our two deepest events all year. Merritt and Estefany have qualified for NCAA Nationals in the past, and hopefully, they'll be able to continue that level of achievement. For Joanna to have earned a berth is a great accomplishment. She works so hard. I'm so happy to see her have the opportunity to go and represent Tulane at a regional meet."
On the men's side, Lynch has put together one of the more impressive careers at Tulane in just his second season on the Uptown campus. The Washington, D.C., native broke the school record in the discus at the Bob Hayes Cowboy Relays in early March before breaking it again at the Stanford Invitational later that month. His toss of 51.81 meters (170' 0") sits 45th in the East Regional grouping. Lynch earned a spot on the Conference USA podium last week after placing third in the discus at the championship meet.
Breaux burst onto the scene halfway through the outdoor season after wrapping up spring football, and he has extraordinary during his time with the track and field squad. Last week at the Conference USA Championships, Breaux scored points in three different events for the Green Wave - the long jump, the high jump and the 4 x 100 meter relay. Breaux placed second in the long jump and third in the high jump, while joining forces with three other Tulane football and track and field athletes for a fourth place finish. For his efforts, Breaux was named the Male Freshman of the Meet - the first individual Conference USA award given to a Tulane male track and field athlete since 2001. His long jump of 7.55 meters (24' 9.25") at the C-USA Championships is good for 17th overall in the East Regional.
"We knew the level of athlete, specifically in the long jump, that Devon could be," stated Peterson. "He had a great meet at the state meet during his senior year, and we were very happy to see him set a new personal record and place as high as he did during the conference meet last week. He did so much for our team at the conference meet. To now have an opportunity to go on and compete in the East Regionals is great."
"This is a remarkable achievement for Thomas, as well," added Peterson. "He set the school record here in a very short period of time, as he has worked with coach (Gary) England since his arrival. He has been very consistent in his throws, reaching the 50-meter mark often. This is an important step in his career. He has been a big shot in the arm for our men's program, as has Devon."
The NCAA East Regional Championships will be held from May 23-25.
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