Ten Long Beach athletes will compete at this weekend’s NCAA Track & Field championships in Eugene, Oregon, an event already guaranteed to be historic as it’s the last to be held at Historic Hayward Field before it’s rebuilt.
Headlining the group of locals is Long Beach Poly alum Ariana Washington, one of the NCAA’s most decorated sprinters, who will be making her last collegiate appearance before graduating from the University of Oregon.
Washington has won three individual NCAA championships and has been a part of four NCAA team championships at Oregon, two indoor and two outdoor. The eight-time All-American has qualified for the NCAA Finals in the 100 and 200 meter sprints, and will also anchor Oregon’s 4×100 relay.
“I’m excited to compete here one last time,” said Washington. “I think hosting takes a lot of pressure off—we use this track every single day.”
Oregon won last year’s NCAA team title and has 19 entries on the women’s side, tied for most in the country
“I think we’re going to shock a lot of people,” said Washington, who also said she wasn’t ready to reflect on her career yet. “I don’t really have any emotions right now because it hasn’t really hit met yet.”
Washington’s high school teammate, Kymber Payne, is chasing NCAA history of her own as one of the top three qualifiers in the 400 hurdles. Payne also anchors LSU’s 4×400 team, which has a good shot at the NCAA title.
Making her NCAA Finals debut will be Lauren Williams, a Long Beach native who briefly attended Poly before transferring to Oaks Christian. Williams will run on Oregon’s 4×100 relay with Washington and has also qualified in the 200.
Wilson alum Mar’yea Harris is making his third NCAA Finals appearance and will compete in the 400, as well as on Iowa’s 4×100 and 4×400 relays.
Rounding out the group of Long Beach athletes is six 49ers, including Long Beach State’s record 4×100 quartet of Courtne’ Davis, Ashleigh Chambers, Azaria Hill and Madison Golden, which has set the school record twice this year.
The Big West’s Field Athlete of the Year, long jumper Jason Smith, has a good shot at a good placement, and he’ll be joined by LBSU teammate Saladin Nasser, who will also compete in the long jump.
Men’s prelims will be on Wednesday and women’s prelims will be on Thursday, with the men’s finals set for Friday and the women’s set for Saturday.
Ariana Washington, Oregon: 100, 200, 4×100
Kymber Payne, LSU: 400 Hurdles, 4×400
Courtne’ Davis, Ashleigh Chambers, Azaria Hill and Madison Golden, Long Beach State: 4×100
Jason Smith, LBSU: Long Jump
Saladin Nasser, LBSU: Long Jump
Lauren Williams, Oregon: 200