Dahl, Bailey and James advance to finals at Mideast Regional
Friday, May 29, 2009

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (May 29, 2009) - Survive and advance was the name of the game for the ETSU track and field team Friday afternoon, and for three Buccaneer athletes the motto and hard work paid off at the 2009 NCAA Mideast Regional, located at Louisville's Cardinal Park.


Seniors Heidi Dahl (Orem, Utah) and Nae-Nae Bailey (Statesville, N.C.) both prolonged their collegiate careers by qualifying for the finals in their respective events, while sophomore Mike James (Palm Bay, Fla.) did the same in the 110-meter hurdles. Unfortunately, senior Judy Johnson (Knoxville, Tenn.) saw her collegiate career come to an end and junior Duronal Monal (Belle Glade, Fla.) also couldn't advance in the 100m or 200m.  


"Overall everyone gave a valiant effort today and laid it on the line," commented associate head coach Michelle Byrne. "When you come to regionals the goal on day one is to advance to the finals, and three of our athletes were able to step up and make it happen today. I am pleased with how we performed and hopefully we see the same effort tomorrow."


Dahl was the first ETSU athlete to qualify for finals in her respective event, as she won her section in the 1500m with a time of 4:26.46. The Orem, Utah native beat out Michigan's Danielle Tauro in the section two race by one full second; however, overall Dahl was topped by Tennessee's Sarah Bowman by 13 seconds (4:13.59). Dahl and Bowman now get the chance to go head-to-head in Saturday's final and look to qualify for the NCAA National Championships.


"Heidi advanced with ease and controlled the entire race," said Byrne. "She shifted with 600m to go and no one came up to test her. She is excited to compete in the finals and have the chance to qualify for the NCAA Championships tomorrow."


After not being able to pull through in the 100m, (Nae-Nae) Bailey made sure her collegiate career didn't come to an end on Friday, as she beat out Louisiana Tech's Stacia Hanneman for the final spot in the 200m. Bailey, who qualified for the 200m by claiming the Atlantic Sun title two weeks ago in Jacksonville, sprinted her way to a personal best mark of 24.02. The senior from Statesville, N.C. entered the field with the slowest time but made up for it by finishing eighth overall.


"It was great to see Nae-Nae extend her career and advance to the finals in the 200m," Byrne said. "To make the finals and see the hard work over the last four years pay off is very rewarding."


Meanwhile, (Mike) James excelled in his NCAA Regional debut after qualifying for finals in the 110-meter hurdles. James, who entered the race ranked 13th in the 18-man field, turned in a personal best time of 14.09 in the prelims and finished seventh overall. In the end, James' time had to be broken down to the thousandths, as he and two other competitors both finished 14.09. Fortunately, for James, he recorded the second fastest mark at 14.086.


"Mike is having a phenomenal and breakthrough season, and today he ran a very strong race" said Byrne. "To have him set a personal best and advance to the finals in his first regional meet is quite an accomplishment."


Friday was bittersweet for the ETSU track and field program, as (Judy) Johnson saw her career come to an end, while (Duronal) Monal ended an outstanding year as well. Johnson, who was competing in both the 100m and 200m, didn't advance. The Knoxville, Tenn. finished 12th in the 200m (24.18) and 16th in the 100m (11.79), respectively.


"It's heartbreaking to see Judy's season end like it did," said Byrne. "Judy wasn't 100-percent but she gave it everything she had in both events today. I am very appreciative of what she has been able to do here (at ETSU) and commend her dedication to our program."


Like Johnson, Monal also couldn't pull through in the sprints. Monal, the 2009 A-Sun Champion in both the 100m and 200m, finished a respectable 13th in the 200m and 14th in the 100m. The Belle Glade, Fla. native ran 21.19 in the 200m and 10.58 in the 100m.


"Our expectations for Duronal were to advance to the finals, but he still gained a lot of experience after competing on this stage," Byrne said. "He ran close to a lifetime best in the 200m, but made some technical errors, which cost him a spot in making the finals. Hopefully he uses this experience to his advantage and comes back stronger next year."


The Bucs return to action on Saturday when Dahl, Bailey and James all look to advance to the 2009 NCAA Championships. Dahl starts the day off at 4:20 p.m., James will then follow her 25 minutes later in the hurdles and Bailey wraps things up in the 200m at 6 p.m.   


For more information on Buccaneer track and field, visit www.ETSUBucs.com.