RICHMOND, Va. – While most of the students at Virginia Commonwealth University are headed home for the summer, there are nine who are headed north for a different reason, to get a chance to compete against the country's best.
Those nine student-athletes are members of the VCU track & field program and will all be competing at the ECAC/IC4A Championships this weekend in Princeton, N.J.
"It's a great opportunity for several of our athletes to put forth one last effort in earning a spot at East Regionals," Head Coach Jon Riley said. "We have three athletes in Quina, DeAngelo and Jazlynn who have a pretty solid spot, but it's always good to try and increase your standings in that regard."
The men's squad will send six athletes to the meet with seniors Walid Berkhedle, Axel Mostrag, DeAngelo Wilson, Kyle Jones and Joseph Edwards being joined by sophomore Josh Bostick.
Berkhedle and Mostrag will be repping the mid-distance crew. Mostrag is currently in the top-85 in the 800-meter, but with shaving a second off his time, he would have a chance to be in the top-48 and a berth in the East Regionals. Berkhedle needs to shave less than a second off his 1500-meter time to find a spot in the regionals.
Jones, Bostick and Wilson will all be running in the 100-meter, while Edwards will be taking off in the long jump. Wilson will also be competing in the 200-meter dash, but the Richmond, Va. native is pretty secure in both events in the Regionals.
The women's side is one down this weekend after sophomore Dionna Hayes fell victim to a hamstring injury at the CAA Championship last week. Other than Hayes, senior Quina Fortune, junior Jazlynn Finney and freshman Niamani Aduma all qualified for the IC4A meet and will be making the trek up I-95.
Fortune and Finney have already secured pretty good strangeholds on berths into East Regionals, but will focus on fine tuning things this weekend in order to be sharp next week. Aduma had an outstanding freshman year and will close it out with a performance in the long jump this weekend.
Fortune has top-25 marks in both the 100 and 200-meter dashes in the East Region, but Riley feels like concentrating on the 200m will be the best bet.
"Quina is running the best she's ever run and to have the best shot of advancing to the national championships, it's probably better to concentrate on just one of those events and obviously the 200 is her stronger event," Riley said.
Finney's second-place finish in the CAA Championships last week put her in the top-48 and will look to secure that spot even more this weekend in the Garden State.
Trials for most events start Saturday morning with the finals scheduled on Sunday.