Six Bearkats will be among 17 student-athletes from the Southland Conference who will compete at the 2012 NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships this week.

A total of 15 men and two women student-athletes from Southland squads advanced to compete at the final meet at Drake Stadium in Des Moines, Iowa, June 6-9.

Sam Houston State jumper Charles White and the Bearkats' men's 4x400 relay team broke school records to qualify for the NCAA championships. White set a school record with a mark of 51-10.5 in the triple jump to earn a trip to Des Moines.

The men's 4x400 relay team of Trey Jones, Brian Helaire, Jessie Martinez and DJ Hayes earned their trip to the NCAA championships by placing fourth in their heat and breaking the school record with a time of 3:06.51.

The semifinals round of the 4x400 relay will begin Thursday, June 7, at 8:25 p.m. The semifinals will consist of three heats of eight teams each. The top two finishers per heat plus the next two highest times will advance to the finals Saturday at 12:40 in the afternoon.

Sam Houston will compete in the first heat along with Southern California, Florida, Texas Tech, Kansas, Ohio State, BYU and Hampton.

The triple jump semifinals begins at 4:30 p.m. Friday. There will be two flights compete with the top nine competitors advancing to a three-attempt final.

McNeese State senior David Rooney automatically qualified for the NCAA championships with a third-place finish in his heat of the 5,000 meters at the NCAA East Regionals held in Jacksonville, Fla. Rooney, who also won the event at the Southland championships, clocked in a time of 14:17.69. Joining Rooney is McNeese graduate thrower Ben Chretien. Chretien earned his second trip to the NCAA championship with a throw of 226-7, good enough for a sixth-place finish at regionals.

Lamar seniors Tom Wade and Joe Wade qualified for the NCAA championships with second- and third-place finishes, respectively, in their heat of the 3,000-meter steeplechase. T. Wade, who finished with a time 8:54.89, is making his second-consecutive appearance at the NCAA championships after earning honorable mention All-America honors last year. J. Wade, who won the event at the Southland championships, clocked a third-place finish behind his twin brother with a time of 8:58.52.

UTSA sophomore Keyunta Hayes and juniors Richard Garrett Jr. and Tyler Williamson all qualified for the championships with top marks at the NCAA West Regionals held in Austin, Texas. Hayes won his heat of the 400-meter hurdles to automatically qualify him for the championships with a time of 50.37 seconds. The two-time Southland champion's mark was the fourth-fastest clocking of the event at the NCAA West Regionals and matched his personal best set two weeks ago at the Southland championships.  

Garrett earned his second-consecutive trip to the NCAA championships in the shot put with a throw of 62-feet, 2.5 inches on his second attempt, adding more than six inches to his first-place throw two weeks ago at the Southland championships. He earned second-team All-America honors in the event last year.  Williamson, who placed second in the long jump at the Southland championships, advanced to Des Moines with a fifth-place leap of 25-8.75. The junior broke the six-year-old UTSA long jump record by two inches.

Texas State junior Logan Cunningham and Southeastern Louisiana senior Kovey Simmons will compete in the pole vault. Cunningham earned his third-consecutive trip to Des Moines with a mark of 17-08.50 while Simmons will be making his second-consecutive appearance with a mark of 17-05.50.

UT Arlington junior Romain Martin will compete in the decathlon at the NCAA championships for the second consecutive year. Martin is a two-time Southland champion at the event and placed third at the championships last season, earning him first-team All-America honors.

In women's competition, McNeese State junior Ashlee Smith advanced in the discus while Texas A&M-Corpus Christi senior Kassandrea Son earned a spot in the long jump competition.

Smith broke the McNeese school record with a toss of 169-8 for a seventh-place finish in the discus, advancing from the NCAA East Regional to Des Moines.

Son earned her second trip to the NCAA championships as she placed 11th in the long jump, posting a distance of 20-09.25. 

Listed below are the Southland student-athletes and their respective events of competition advancing to the NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships in Des Moines, Iowa, June 6-9.



3,000m Steeplechase

Long Jump

Joe Wade, Lamar

Kassandrea Son, Texas A&M-Corpus Christi

Tom Wade, Lamar



Ashlee Smith, McNeese State

David Rooney, McNeese State


400m Hurdles


Keyunta Hayes, UTSA


4x400m Relay


Sam Houston State


Long Jump


Tyler Williamson, UTSA


Triple Jump


Charles White, Sam Houston State


Pole Vault


Logan Cunningham, Texas State


Kovey Simmons, Southeastern Louisiana


Shot Put


Richard Garrett Jr., UTSA




Ben Chretien, McNeese State




Romain Martin, UT Arlington