May 22, 2014
NEW ORLEANS - Eight Tulane track and field athletes will continue their 2014 outdoor season, as five jumpers, two throwers and one sprinter will represent the Green Wave at the NCAA East Regionals, to be held on May 29-31 in Jacksonville, Fla.
Redshirt freshman javelin thrower Daliadiz Ortiz, freshman shot putter Taylor Potts, sophomore triple jumper Tamika Brazzel, redshirt junior triple jumper Estefany Cruz, senior pole vaulter Joanna Lapucha, freshman pole vaulter Mary Carson Pitts, sophomore sprinter Lilla McMillan and men's sophomore long jumper Devon Breaux make up the largest contingent of Tulane athletes in individual events to ever qualify for the first round of the NCAA National Championships since the inception of the format in 2003.
"I'm really proud of the commitment that all of these athletes have made over the course of the year to improve and compete at a high level," said Tulane track and field director Eric Peterson. "They are being rewarded by earning a spot in the first round of the NCAA National Championships, and this is an outstanding accomplishment. We are hopeful that some of these athletes will advance to the finals."
Ortiz captured the Conference USA javelin Gold Medal at the C-USA Outdoor Championships last weekend with a throw of 48.79 meters (160-1). The native of Puerto Rico has won six event titles in the nine meets she has competed in this season, and in the other three, she has placed second. The throw that qualified her for the postseason came at the Florida State Twilight meet on May 9. In Tallahassee, Ortiz launched a personal-best throw of 49.94 meters (163-10) that ranks 17th in the East Region. That throw also ranks 33rd in the NCAA this season.
Cruz' qualifying makes history for the Green Wave, as she becomes just the third track and field athlete to qualify for the NCAA Regionals in an individual event in three consecutive years, joining Ana Ruzevic and Gloria Asumnu. Cruz posted the East's 40th-best triple jump that came during the Tulane Team Challenge on March 29 at Tad Gormley Stadium. On that day, Cruz posted a leap of 12.69 meters (41-7.75) that was by far her season's best mark.
Fellow triple jumper Brazzel owns the East's 36th-best mark that came during the C-USA Outdoor Championships last weekend. The Oceanside, Calif., product notched a jump of 12.72 meters (41-8.75) that placed fifth on the afternoon.
Pitts recorded her qualifying mark at the Stanford Invitational on April 4. The rookie from Memphis cleared 3.97 meters (13-0.25), which stands at 46th in the East. Pitts becomes the first freshman pole vaulter in Tulane history to qualify for the NCAA Regionals.
Potts' top shot put toss on the year came during the Southern Miss Black and Gold Invitational in Hattiesburg, Miss., on May 3. The Fishers, Ind., native won that event title with a personal-best throw of 14.88 meters (48-10). She, along with Ortiz, joins Ruzevic as the only freshman throwers in school history to qualify for an NCAA Regional.
McMillan had an outstanding outdoor season in 2014 that included her 400 meter mark of 53.88 seconds at the LSU Alumni Gold on April 19. The Mill Valley, Calif., native placed 38th in the NCAA East Region with that time that also ranks seventh in school history.
Breaux, who made history last year alongside Thomas Lynch by becoming the first Tulane men to qualify for an NCAA Regional, becomes the first Green Wave male track and field athlete to compete in back-to-back regionals. Breaux punched his ticket to the postseason with a 7.45 meter (24-5.5) long jump mark at the C-USA Outdoor Championships last week, placing sixth overall. The mark was nearly two-tenths of a meter longer than his previous season high. Breaux's leap ranks 36th in the East Region.
"I'm particularly proud of Devon to advance in back-to-back years," added Peterson. "For him to be a part-time track and field athlete says a lot about his talent and competitiveness."
After the conclusion of the NCAA East (and West) Regionals, the best of the best will travel to Eugene, Ore., for the NCAA Outdoor Championships from June 9-14.
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