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Thursday, May 19, 2022

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Traynor to nationals in 5,000; Benford misses spot

Sophomore Nicol Traynor has earned a bid to the NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships in the 5,000-meter run, the fifth Spider all-time and the first distance runner in six years to represent Richmond at the meet.

Andrew Benford, who was in contention for a spot in the 3,000 steeplechase, fell less than two seconds short of an invitation based on his season-best time. He was the third runner in line to not make the event, and missed an automatic berth from regionals by four seconds.

"It's disappointing knowing that I did not run my best race at regionals and the guys ahead of me did," Benford said. "I've beaten some of those guys before."

Traynor is seeded 23rd out of 27 runners for the event, to be held at the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville, Ark., on June 10.

The selection committee that determines at-large berths would have considered Traynor's school-record performance of 16 minutes, 17.64 seconds at the Mt. SAC Invitational in California in April. On Friday night, she finished in 12th at the East regional in Greensboro, N.C., in 16:36, falling short of the top-five finish she would have needed for an automatic qualifier. The top-five rule also applies for the other three regional meets.

In each of the four regional meets, the top-five finishers each earn an automatic bid to nationals. The selection committee then adds seven additional athletes who declare to compete in the event, based on season-best performances.

The last time a Richmond athlete competed in nationals was in 2007, when sprinter Jessica Young ran in the 400-meter dash in Sacramento, Calif. Former distance standout Josephine White competed in the NCAA Women's Outdoor Championships in 1981 and 1983 in the 1,500, as did Ruth Chege in 2003. Lindsey Smith threw the javelin in 2005.

Traynor did not immediately return a phone message Wednesday afternoon.

This version ADDS comment from Benford.

Contact staff writer Andrew Prezioso at andrew.prezioso@richmond.edu

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