TAMPA, Fla. – Senior Brianna Belo capped off her American University track & field career in much the same way she began – in record-breaking style. Belo and junior Matthew Rainey closed the 2018 outdoor track schedule on Thursday with performances at the NCAA Championships East Preliminary Round in Tampa, Fla., making this the first time in program history that both a male and female student-athlete qualified for the preliminary meet in the same season.
Belo surpassed her own school record in the 800-meter run to narrowly miss qualification into Friday's quarterfinal round, closing with a final time of 2:07.06 for 25th overall. She entered the meet ranked 41st in the field with her 2:07.52 school record from the Colonial Relays earlier this season.
Advancement into the quarterfinal is based on the top three finishers in each of the six heats, plus the next six times. Belo was well within qualification based on her time after finishing fifth in heat one, but a blistering fourth heat dropped her down to the second-to-last spot. Then, another quick pace during the sixth and final heat pushed her back to just one place, and 0.06-seconds, off the last qualifying spot.
This closes one of the most storied careers in recent history for the women's track & field program, as Belo rewrote the mid-distance record books with 21 school record performances across six events – indoor 400m dash, outdoor 400m dash, indoor 500m dash, indoor 800m run, outdoor 800m run, and the indoor 1000m run. She also claimed three Patriot League titles in the event, including at both the indoor and outdoor championships this year.
Rainey became the fifth runner in program history on the men's side to qualify for the first round of the national championship after he clocked the sixth-fastest time in AU history in the 1500-meter run (3:45.70). He finished 47th in the east regional field with a final time of 3:57.98.
HEAR FROM HEAD COACH SEAN GRAHAM…
"Of course, we're pretty disappointed that it didn't work out the way we had hoped. However, Brianna ran absolutely valiantly. When an athlete is able to run a personal record in a championship meet, you know they gave it their all. I could not be more proud of what she accomplished this year and over her career. Going from a walk-on in a completely different event to just missing the national championships is amazing. She is a true testament to the hard work and grit necessary for becoming a great athlete."
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