Donyelle Brown is making her first appearance in NCAA Regional competition.
May 28, 2014
NCAA LIVE RESULTS | EAST REGIONAL SCHEDULE | NCAA HEAT SHEETS
ATHENS, Ohio — Regardless of whether it’s a student-athlete’s first experience on the big stage or last chance to shine at the highest level, there’s no greater opportunity for a collegiate track & field competitor than a trip to NCAAs.
For Ohio University standouts Donyelle Brown (Reynoldsburg, Ohio) and Juli Accurso (Casstown, Ohio), this week’s NCAA East Regional in Jacksonville, Fla., is about representing the Green & White with pride and honor while attempting to advance to June’s NCAA Outdoor Championships.
But despite that common goal, the two student-athlete will approach Thursday’s competition at very different points in their respective careers.
For Brown, Thursday’s opening portion of the women’s hammer throw is a first opportunity to compete at the NCAA level. A redshirt sophomore, Brown made it to Jacksonville after enjoying a breakout season for the Ohio throws unit.
She set a new school record in the hammer throw at the All-Ohio Championships (56.89m) on April 11. Then, the Reynoldsburg, Ohio, native broke her own record the following week with a mark of 57.41m at the Jesse Owens Classic in Columbus. That throw earned her the No. 28 spot in the East Regional.
“It means a lot that I worked hard and got myself here, but I know I have more work to do to get to the next level,” Brown said. “I think this weekend will be a great experience, because it’s my first time here. I’m excited to see what I can do and to see the competition that’s in our region.”
While finishing in the top-12 and making it to the NCAA Championship in Eugene, Ore., is Brown’s goal – and one she can very much achieve this season - she is also very aware of the point she is at in her career. As a redshirt sophomore, Brown will have two more years in Athens to improve her skills and get back to the NCAAs.
“This year is a ‘see where I am’ type of year,” Brown said. “The competition is great and everyone here is talented. Sometimes a competitor’s nerves work out for the best and other times they backfire. I’m excited to see which one I am. Regardless of the outcome, I can always build from this year into next season.”
Accurso, on the other hand, is putting the finishing touches on an unparalleled distance career for the Bobcats. A three-time USTFCCCA Cross Country All-American and 2012 Indoor All-American, Accurso has thrived under the bright lights of NCAA action for the better part of her time in Athens.
This week, the senior will run both the 10000m (Thursday, 9:40 p.m.) and the 5000m (Saturday, 8:45 p.m.), and she has the experience necessary to go out with a bang for the Bobcats and make it to Eugene in June.
“I haven’t really thought about it as my last college experience, but it’s nice being here and being a senior because I’ve been through this process before,” Accurso said. “In terms of my nerves, I’m calmer and more confident and know what to expect. I’m really excited to have this opportunity. At the end of the day, I’m just happy to be able to represent Ohio one more time at an NCAA event.”
The majority of Accurso’s focus will be on Thursday’s 10K, a distance she has excelled at throughout the 2014 outdoor campaign. At the MAC Championships two weeks ago in Athens, Accurso set a new MAC meet record while capturing the event title in 34:32.59. She will aim to build on that race heading into Thursday night.
"I’m looking to be in the top-10 early in the race and get myself into a good position where I can see the field and respond to any types of surges or movements that would happen late in the race,” Accurso said. “I want to put myself in a good position to get a qualifying spot.”
For both student-athletes, the actual competition is just part of the NCAA experience. Making the trip down to Florida provides not only the honor of competing for Ohio University, but also in carrying the banner for the Buckeye State at a nationwide event.
“Being so far away from Athens, it’s neat when people see our gear, see where we’re from and start asking us questions,” Accurso said. “What was even cooler was being at the track yesterday when we passed Akron’s team and they told us good luck. There’s not only a sense of pride in representing Ohio University, but also Ohio and the MAC. Seeing competitors from Dayton and Cincinnati as well, there's definitely an Ohio pride we all share.”
#BobcatNation can follow the progress of both Brown and Accurso throughout NCAA East Regional competition. Live results can be accessed all weekend by clicking here.