June 5, 2006
Los Angeles, Calif. - In Loyola Marymount University's first season of sponsoring track, the Lions are sending a representative to the 2006 NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championship. Sophomore Laura Mickelson earned the right to advance in the women's 5000m after her performance at the NCAA Western Regional in Provo, Utah.
Mickelson's NCAA regional 5000m time of 17:16.59 made her one of 28 women in the nation to qualify for the event national championship. The El Segundo, Calif. native was the top finisher in the 5000m from outside the Pac-10 conference and was named an All-West Region selection by the U.S. Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCA).
She was one of two Lions to run at the NCAA West Regionals, as sister Sara Mickelson joined her in the 5000m. Sara finished 13th in a time of 17:51.09.
Laura Mickelson will now compete for the national title beginning June 7 at the Alex G. Spanos Athletic Complex on the campus of Sacramento State. She will represent the second LMU program to compete for an NCAA national title in just two weeks, as LMU golf wrapped up its championship bid last week in Oregon.
Part of the national championship event will be televised on CBS and CSTV. For more information on television coverage and championship event details, Lion fans can visit the Championship Central here.
Mickelson is one of three athletes from the West Coast Conference to qualify for nationals. Cross country/track perennial powerhouse Portland boasts the other two.
In addition to running for the national title, Mickelson will be competing for All-American status, as the top eight American finishers in the event will earn the distinction.
The event's preliminary will be Wednesday evening, with Mickelson's heat scheduled to go at 7:50 p.m. The preliminary for the 5000m involves two heats of 14 runners. The top six finishers in each heat, plus the next four fastest times overall, qualify for the event final. The final, set for Friday at 7:00 p.m., will feature those 16 runners.
Out of the 28 event qualifiers, Mickelson's time ranks her 23rd overall, but she is just 10 seconds off the top-16.
For the Lions' cross country and track programs, Mickelson's championship run caps a year of tragedy to triumph. The Lions opened the cross country season mourning the loss of men's team captain Adam Bacon, who was killed in an automobile accident on August 5, just weeks before he was to begin his senior campaign.
Mickelson went on to lead the Lions to their highest finish at the West Coast Conference Cross Country Championships in October, earning first-team All-WCC honors in the process.
In February, the LMU Athletics Department announced that it would begin to sponsor track as an official sport. Wasting no time, Mickelson went on to qualify for NCAA regionals and nationals in LMU's inaugural season.
By the end of the academic year, Mickelson's 3.94 cumulative grade point average had teamed with her athletic accomplishments to earn her LMU's Female Student-Athlete of the Year honor. Mickelson, a natural science major, was also a region all-academic selection.
"This is really a great time for our running programs here at Loyola Marymount," Head Coach Scott Guerrero said. "This school year got off to an inauspicious beginning with the death of our senior men's captain Adam Bacon. Yet out of that tragedy, we came away with our best-ever cross country season and a number of historic 'firsts' including the addition of men's and women's track. If you had told me nine months ago that in June, we would have someone making an appearance at the national championships in track I would have said you were crazy. For us to be able to do this in the first year of the program is nothing short of amazing, in my opinion. I just hope people realize how far we've come this year."