Ex-Yellowjacket Gardner on way to NCAAs

MORGANTOWN — Redshirt senior Amy Cashin and redshirt junior Madelin Gardner of the West Virginia University track and field team travel to the 2018 NCAA Division I Outdoor Track and Field Championships, from June 6-9, in Eugene, Oregon.

Cashin is set to compete in the women’s 3,000-meter steeplechase at historic Hayward Field, while Gardner will participate in the women’s pole vault. The Mountaineer duo will compete on Thursday night, as Gardner’s pole vault final is scheduled to begin at 7:30 p.m. ET, while Cashin races in the 3,000-meter steeplechase semifinals at 7:32 p.m.

Fans can follow along with all the action in Eugene at ncaa.com. ESPN2 will provide live coverage of Thursday’s events, beginning at 7 p.m. ET. Additional coverage of the meet can be found on various ESPN3 webcasts, including Thursday’s pole vault competition. For a full list of broadcast information, start lists, schedules and more, visit the event’s championship central.

“We have had a successful season to date,” WVU coach Sean Cleary said.

“With seven qualifying for the NCAA East Preliminary and Maddie and Amy advancing all the way to Eugene for the finals, we are represented by two incredible young ladies. Both are coming off seasons that saw them break school records before nailing the first round of qualifying. This being the last step in this year’s long journey is nothing short of exciting.

“For Amy, competing in Eugene in front of a crowd of more than 13,000 is nothing new. Her experience should benefit her tremendously. Being that Maddie qualified for the indoor national championships, a meet that she handled with tremendous poise, that should suite her well as she faces this opportunity.”

Cashin is set to make her second career appearance at the NCAA Outdoor Championships. Last year, the Werribee, Victoria, Australia, native finished 19th in the 3,000-meter steeplechase semifinals (10:11.86), earning All-America Third Team accolades. The top-five finishers from Thursday’s two semifinal heats will advance to Saturday’s event final, as well as the next two best times.

Gardner is set to make her NCAA Outdoor Championships debut. The Williamstown, West Virginia, native is the first Mountaineer vaulter to reach the national finals since Kristen Quackenbush in 1998.

At the NCAA East Preliminary Round, on May 25, in Tampa, Florida, Cashin earned an 11th-place finish in the steeplechase, earning a time of 10:04.19. The result was good for the victory in her heat, helping to punch her ticket to Eugene.

Gardner finished 12th in the pole vault competition at the East Prelims, earning a jump of 4.18 meters (13 feet, 8.5 inches). The top-12 finishers in the pole vault and the top-three finishers in each of the 3,000-meter steeplechase’s three heats, plus the next three fastest times, qualified for the NCAA Outdoor Championships.

Cashin and Gardner also represented West Virginia at the 2018 NCAA Division I Indoor Track and Field Championships, in College Station, Texas, last March. Cashin placed ninth in the women’s mile (4:43.67), while Gardner took ninth in the pole vault (4.31 meters – 14 feet, 1.75 inches). Both earned All-America Second Team distinction for their performances.

Cashin enters this week’s meet as WVU’s school-record holder in the steeplechase. She earned a career-best and winning time of 9:59.40 at the Penn Relays on April 26, becoming the first Mountaineer female to break the 10-minute barrier in the event. Cashin took down her own WVU record (10:01.19) with the feat.

Gardner holds the Mountaineer outdoor school record in the pole vault with a jump of 4.41 meters (14 feet, 5.5 inches). She set the career-best mark at the Virginia Challenge on April 20, smashing her previous WVU-best jump of 4.13 meters.

This week marks the third time in the last five years in which WVU will send multiple student-athletes to the NCAA Outdoor Championships.