May 21, 2013
NEW ORLEANS - Tulane track and field will be represented by five top-notch athletes at the NCAA East Regionals in Greensboro, N.C., this week, and the largest group of Green Wave individuals since 2009 to compete in an NCAA Regional is ready for the competition they will face.
Tulane is sending two pole vaulters - junior Joanna Lapucha and sophomore Merritt Van Meter - along with sophomore triple jumper Estefany Cruz from the women's team. The men's side will be represented by sophomore discus thrower Thomas Lynch and freshman long jumper Devon Breaux.
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.
Lynch will kick things off at 9am CT on Thursday with the discus throw, followed by Breaux's long jump competition that day at noon CT. On Friday, the pole vaulters will compete at 4pm CT and Cruz will triple jump at 4:30pm CT on Saturday.
"We are really proud of these five athletes who qualified for the first round of the NCAA Championships," said Tulane director of track and field Eric Peterson. "It is really encouraging to be able to go and perform at the level they've performed at, but also qualify for this regional. On one hand, it's the first round of the NCAA Championships, but it also needs to be treated as a qualifying round because we want our kids to advance and move on by placing in the top 12."
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. Her season-best jump is good for 37th overall in the regionals.
Breaux - a surprising talent who joined the outdoor track and field team after wrapping up spring football with the Green Wave football program - has only competed in a few meets, but has performed extraordinarily well. 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.
"I think these three athletes have the experience and/or the rankings coming in to give themselves a good chance to qualify and advance to nationals," added Peterson.
Lapucha placed second in the pole vault at the Conference USA Outdoor Championships, also earning All-Conference recognition. Her jump of 3.92 meters (12' 10.25") set a new personal best, bettering her previous mark that stood second in school history. Her jump is tied for the 36th best jump in the East Regionals.
Lynch has etched his name in the Tulane record books on numerous occasions during just his second year in the program. 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.
"For Joanna and Thomas to earn their first real chance to compete in the postseason is really great," stated Peterson. "To have both of these kids returning next season to our program is important to the future of our program."
A link for live stats will be made available on the track and field schedule page at TulaneGreenWave.com prior to the first day of the competition.
Fans can follow the Tulane track and field programs on Twitter (@GreenWaveXCTF) or on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/TulaneXCTF.