TAMPA, Fla. – Bucknell’s Maura Fiamoncini advanced to the NCAA Championships with a fifth-place finish in the javelin Thursday at the Women’s Track and Field NCAA East Preliminary Round at the USF Track & Field Stadium. Additionally, Christine Bendzinski had a great day for the Bison, advancing to the quarterfinal heat in the 1,500-meter run, and Colleen Buckley smashed the school record in the 10k while just missing advancing to the national meet.
Fiamoncini’s fifth-place finish came with a throw of 172-10. Florida senior Avione Allgood won the event with a throw of 180-1, while Memphis junior Ashley Pryke (178-4), Auburn junior Kylee Carter (176-1), and Florida State freshman Laura Paredes (174-11) were the only other student-athletes to finish ahead of the Bucknell freshman in a field of the 48 best throwers in the East Region.
Fiamoncini is the first Bucknell women’s track and field athlete to qualify for the national championships since Laura Rycek in the javelin in 2011.
The NCAA Championships will be held at Tracktown USA in Eugene, Oregon, on June 6-9.
“Maura has been consistent all year and she had three throws in the 51-52 meter range, which advances her to Eugene,” Bucknell head coach Kevin Donner said. “I felt that she handled the pressure as well as a freshman could possibly do, and we are so proud that she is representing the Bison at the Championships.”
Bendzinski put herself in position to join Fiamoncini at the national meet, qualifying for the quarterfinal round of the 1,500-meter run with a fourth-place finish in her heat Thursday. The senior’s time of 4:18.16 was the 12th-fastest overall.
Twenty-four runners advanced to the quarterfinal of the 1,500-meter run, which will take place on Saturday at 1:15 p.m. The top 12 finishers will qualify for the NCAA Championships. Bendzinski made the quarterfinal race for the first time in her third appearance at the meet.
“Chrissy ran a tremendous tactical race to advance to Saturday’s quarterfinal,” Donner said. “She was unable to advance past this round the past two years, so a burden has been lifted off her shoulders. Anything can happen on Saturday, and I believe she is physically and mentally strong enough to be in position to advance to the next round.”
Buckley dropped her personal-best time by over 28 seconds and bested the previous school record of 34:46.48 set by Kate Scott last season by more than 21 seconds. She crossed the line in 34:25.04 to finish in 13th place. The junior missed qualifying for the National Championships by just one spot, coming in behind Notre Dame sophomore Annie Heffernan (34:23.92).
The 13th-place finish by Buckley is the highest ever by a Bucknell woman in the 10k at the regional meet.
“Colleen went in with a great race plan to hold back early because of the high dew point and humidity,” Donner said. “It paid off as she just missed qualifying for nationals and crushed our school record. It was a great way to end her season and set herself up for next fall.”