Junior Morgan Uceny will make her second trip to the NCAA indoor track championships in Fayetteville, Ark., this weekend. Although a number of other members of the men’s and women’s team met provisional qualifing standards for the event, Uceny was the only Cornell athlete extended an invitation to the highly selective meet. This year, five women and three men met provisional standards, while sophomore triple-jumper Muhammad Halim missed qualifying for the event by only a centimeter.
Uceny will be among 17 women in the 800-meter race. Coming into the weekend, her time of 2:04.42 is the third-best time in the nation. Michigan junior Katie Erdman currently holds the fastest time, running the race in 2:04.21. Second to Erdman is Minnesota freshman Heather Dorniden, who has run the race in a time of 2:04.30. The entire field, however, spans a mere 2.56 seconds, which should make for an interesting race.
“I really think this is anyone’s race,” Uceny said.
Last year, Uceny came into the meet at the bottom of the pack, having just run the qualifying time the weekend before at the ECAC championships. Running a 2:06.66 in the second heat, she advanced to the finals where she placed seventh to capture All-America status. Her performance last year proves how tight and unpredictable the competition is at the collegiate level.
Unlike many other races this season, Uceny will experience very close competition at the NCAA indoor track championships. Throughout the season she has relied on internal motivation to push herself beyond her competitors, thus winning by considerable margins. This weekend will see Uceny finally run with people close to her.
“[The times] are very concentrated and centralized,” Uceny said. “You know from the beginning that everyone will be running well. It will be nice to have close competition.”
Such close competition, however, could lead to complications in the race, such as being boxed in.
“I think there will be a lot of strategic running because times are so close,” Uceny said.
Uceny noted that her strategy is to try and not go out too fast, as many girls tend to do in the first 200 meters.
“I just want to keep with the group and hang on,” Uceny said.
Although she comes in with a higher qualifying time than last year, she does not feel that there is any extra pressure on her.
“Now I have higher expectations, but I always have the highest expectations of myself,” Uceny said. “I don’t really think of anyone else in the race. I’m obviously just going to try and run my best.”