June 7, 2013
EUGENE, Ore. ----- UAB junior Elinor Kirk turned in the seventh-fastest 5,000 meters in school history, but the time fell shy of her school record effort from two weeks ago as she concluded competition for the Blazers' track team at the 2013 NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships.
Kirk, one of six UAB competitors -- an all-time high for the Blazers -- to qualify for Nationals, finished with a time of 16:25.62 and placed 19th in the field of 24. Kirk now owns three of the top six 5k times in UAB history, including the school-record performance of 15:59.57 set May 25 at the NCAA East Regional in Greensboro, N.C.
On Friday, Kirk was in the thick of things, running in the top 10 with 800 meters to go before losing ground on the final two laps.
"Even though Eli's race wasn't what maybe she wanted, she ran a very good race and just couldn't hold on late," UAB head coach Kurt Thomas said. "It was very hot for a 5k and it affected everyone. She made some good moves to put herself in a scoring position but just couldn't hold it at the end of the race. We're really proud of the way Eli competed and represented today."
Kirk, a native of Swansea, Wales, U.K., joined fellow distance specialist Rhiannon Johns, along with sprinters Alexis Bates, Shakima Knox, Angel Watson and Kyana White, as UAB qualifiers making the trip to Eugene.
Abbey D'Agostino of Dartmouth was the winner in Friday's 5,000 with a time of 15:43.68. Betsy Saino of Iowa State, the winner of the 10,000 on Wednesday, was second at 15:50.26.
With the season complete, Thomas said this week's experience will serve as a huge positive for the program going forward.
"This was a great overall experience for our group," he said. "We return everyone who came here, with the exception of Rhi, so that's something great to build on, inspire the rest of the team and hopefully bring more to the NCAA meet next year. Our program is headed in the right direction, and this experience should pay dividends for years to come.
"I'm proud of the girls who worked hard all year to help the team have great success at the indoor conference meet, finishing third, having all-around team success at the outdoor conference meet, and the way we competed and qualified at NCAA Prelims. And of course here at the NCAA Championship meet, we competed well and hopefully it makes us hungry to come back and be better next year."