Alexander sprints on in the 400-meter dash

June 11, 2008

DES MOINES, Iowa — University of Iowa senior Kineke Alexander continued her quest for an eighth All-American honor in the 400-meter dash this evening by qualifying for Friday’s semifinal in 53.11-seconds at Drake Stadium. It was the opening day of the four-day NCAA Division I national track and field championships.

The only other Hawkeye to compete on Wednesday was junior A.J. Curtis in the men’s discus. Curtis, who entered the meet as the 23rd seed, foot-fouled on two of his three attempts, but still managed 17th overall with a toss of 167-feet-5. That distance was not one of the top 12 needed to move on to Friday’s final round.

“It’s a great feeling just being a part of this meet, knowing that you’re one of the top throwers in the country,” said Curtis, who made his first-ever appearance at a national competition. “It was awesome competition and it was fun competing against those guys. I feel kind of sad because I really think I could have made it (to the next round) if I would have hit one, so that doesn’t feel too good right now.”

Curtis said his first attempt felt good, but he lost his balance and stepped out of the ring for a foul. His second throw went 167-5 and on his final throw, while attempting a big scoring toss, Curtis again stepped out of the ring.

“He competed hard,” Iowa assistant coach Scott Cappos said. “He just has to hit the front, stay in and hit those.”

Alexander finished runner-up to Big Ten rival Shana Cox of Penn State (52.55) in the third of five preliminary heats of the 400 dash. No stranger to the national meets, Alexander simply wanted to run relaxed and finish in the top two of her heat, which automatically qualifies for the semifinals.

“I wanted to get out, maintain and take it from there,” Alexander said. “The wind was very strong coming off that last 100, but I felt good and pretty relaxed. I wasn’t trying to push myself once I knew I was in the top two.”

Alexander recorded the seventh-fastest 400 time in the preliminaries.

Six Iowa competitors will be in action Thursday — Tammilee Kerr in the women’s javelin (2:15 p.m.) Curtis and John Hickey in the men’s shot put (4:15) and Meghan Armstrong, Racheal Marchand and Diane Nukuri in the 10,000 run (8:10).

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