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Duo of Lady Vol throwers qualify for NCAAs

Lady Vol throwers Nayoka Clunis and Latavia Maines each punched their tickets to the 2021 NCAA Outdoor Track & Field National Championships with top-12 qualifying marks on Thursday.
Clunis and Maines
Clunis and Maines(Tennessee Athletic Communications)
Updated: May. 28, 2021 at 10:50 AM EDT
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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) - Lady Vol throwers Nayoka Clunis and Latavia Maines each punched their tickets to the 2021 NCAA Outdoor Track & Field National Championships with top-12 qualifying marks on Thursday at the NCAA East Preliminary Rounds. Clunis advanced to the national meet in the hammer throw, while Maines earned her nationals bid in the shot put at Hodges Stadium in Jacksonville, Florida.

A graduate student from Kingston, Jamaica, Clunis opened Thursday’s competition for the Lady Vols with a mark of 64.99 meters (213-2) in the hammer throw. The performance was just four centimeters shy of her personal-best and was good for 7th place in the regional event. Clunis will be making her second appearance at the outdoor NCAA championships after also qualifying in the hammer throw as a junior for Minnesota in 2018.

The reigning SEC shot put champion booked her trip to Eugene on Thursday, as Maines tossed a mark of 17.49 meters (57-4.75) on her third attempt. The redshirt junior from Centralia, Illinois, will head to Oregon as the nation’s No. 3 seed with a season-best and conference meet record throw of 18.71 meters (61-4.75) recorded two weeks ago at the SEC Championships.

ON TO THE QUARTERFINALS: The Lady Vol sprinters and hurdlers had four athletes combine for six qualifying marks on Thursday. Running event quarterfinals are set for Saturday evening to narrow it down to the top-12 competitors to Eugene.

Redshirt freshman Vanessa Watson made history with her time of 56.86 seconds in the first round of the 400-meter hurdles. The time was good for a new Lady Vol freshman record and made the Rochester, New York, native the No. 4 performer in school history. Her time was the second-fastest of the evening as she comfortably advanced to Saturday’s quarterfinal—scheduled for 7:55 p.m. in Jacksonville.

Sprint standouts Maia McCoy and Joella Lloyd each advanced in both the 100- and 200-meter dashes on Thursday. McCoy won both her heats with respective times of 11.15 and 23.11 to automatically qualify, while Lloyd earned timed qualifying spots at 11.50 and 23.47. The speedy Lady Vol duo will vie for their spots at nationals on Saturday, running the 100-meter dash at 7:05 p.m. followed by the 200-meter dash at 8:10 p.m.

In the 100-meter hurdles, Lady Vol senior Alexis Duncan breezed through the first round as she dropped a season-best time for the eighth consecutive meet. The DeSoto, Texas, native clocked in at 13.04 seconds for the 10th-fastest time of the day. She will run the quarterfinals Saturday at 6:45 p.m., looking to punch her third consecutive ticket to the NCAA outdoor championships.

UP NEXT: The men of Tennessee will return to action at the NCAA East Preliminary Rounds on Friday, beginning at 1 p.m. with Darryl Sullivan competing in the high jump.

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