“A little disappointed” but nevertheless “a great experience” was how Head Coach Brian Etelman described the Cardinals’ weekend on the track.
Bryeana Byrdsong and MaQuila Norman represented Ball State at the NCAA East Preliminary Championships Thursday and Friday at the Hodges Stadium in Jacksonville, Florida.
Going into the regional championships, Byrdsong was coming from first-place and second-place finishes in the 100-meter and 200-meter races, and Norman from a fourth-place finish in the 400-meters at the MAC Outdoor Championships held May 9-11.
However, both runners making their debuts at the NCAA regionals came up short, failing to advance to the next rounds in their respective events.
“I’m a little disappointed. I know we’re better than we looked today,” Etelman said after Thursday’s events. “I think we just looked like it was our first time at an NCAA meet. We probably didn't step up the way we needed to.”
Ball State at the 2019 NCAA East Preliminary Championships:
100m first round:
Bryeana Byrdsong - 38th place (11.83s)
200m first round:
Bryeana Byrdsong - 38th place (23.96s)
400m first round:
Maquila Norman - 46th place (55.53s)
After her 100-meter race, Byrdsong said she “can’t be conservative” when running against “high-caliber athletes” that take part at the regionals.
“I need to trust my skill and my training and just run as fast as i can,” she said with intentions of focusing only on the 200-meters the next day.
But her Friday race didn’t go as planned, and she said she “wanted to run faster but it didn’t happen.”
Nevertheless, Etelman was proud of Byrdsong’s performance this season — in particular her being declared the MVP at the MAC Outdoor Championships and her first individual gold at the event.
“It was quite the accomplishment to qualify in two events to the NCAA first round and she would be proud of that,” he said.
Byrdsong too was proud of her season and her achievements this year.
“I've come a long way and I have a lot more left in me,” she said. “I'm going back to the drawing boards and coming back with even more intensity next season.”
Norman reflected on her own performance in the 400-meters.
“I felt disappointed by the time I ran because I know I can run way faster than that,” she said.
For future races, Norman said she needs to run “not thinking that this is my last race and just expecting that there is going to be better competition,” but that she can also “be that better competition.”
“This weekend didn't go the way wanted, but it was a great experience for us and we have to take the off season to address where we need to get better so we are better prepared for NCAA next year,” Etelman said.