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Smith Qualifies for NCAA Championships; Both UMBC Track and Field Squads Climb in Latest USTFCCCA Mid-Atlantic Rankings

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Video: Smith's Run (Flo Track)

NEW ORLEANS – UMBC senior Andrew Smith (Chadds Ford, Pa./Garnet Valley) will be the sixth Retriever track and field athlete to compete at the NCAA Championships when he heads to New Mexico for the national indoor meet on March 14-15, the intercollegiate governing body announced on Tuesday night.  Smith will compete in the 800m at the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque.

Smith holds the 15th seed in the nation in the event after bettering his own school record this past weekend in Boston.  The senior, who captured the America East title in the 800m on Feb. 24, posted a time of 1:48.82 to just into the qualifying zone and receive the invitation.

Smith is the sixth Retriever to ever reach the national stage after Mercedes Jackson (Huntingtown, Md./Huntingtown) advanced to both the indoor and outdoor meet last season and Vincent Rentzsch (Oranienberg, Germany/Elite Sportschule Potsdam) joined her in June in Oregon.  Previously, only UMBC head coach David Bobb (1996-97), Cleopatra Borel (2002), and Huguens Jean (2003) had advanced.  Borel is the only NCAA champion in school history having claimed the top spot in the shot put at the NCAA meet.

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Both the UMBC men's and women's track and field teams have climbed up the standings in the latest United States Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) Mid-Atlantic Regional Poll, the organization announced on Tuesday. 

The Retriever men jumped up one spot from last week and now sit at 12th in the area while the women climbed two places and rank 13th in the Mid-Atlantic.  Penn State leads both standings with Princeton second in the men's rankings and Georgetown trailing just behind in the women's poll.

Senior Andrew Smith (Chadds Ford, Pa./Garnet Valley) has paced the Retriever men all season and has advanced to the NCAA Championships in Albuquerque, N.M. in the 800m run after a blistering race on Sunday.  In Boston at the BU Last Chance Meet, Smith topped his previous-best and school record of 1:49.15 by .33 and now ranks 16th nationally with a time of 1:48.82.

Smith leads a men's distance team which has broken four school records during the 2013-14 season.  In addition to Smith's record time in the 800m, junior Jake Albino (Hampton, N.Y./Minisink Valley) claimed the 1,000m UMBC record (2:25.48) and sophomore Hassan Omar (Frederick, Md./Thomas Johnson) snapped the school marks in the 3k (8:22.56) and 5k (14:32.71) events.  All four times met the IC4A standard and each athlete earned a top medal at the 2014 America East Indoor Championships, led by Smith's gold in the 800.

Junior sprinter Mercedes Jackson (Huntingtown, Md./Huntingtown) has once again fueled the women's rise up the rankings.  Jackson swept the gold medals in both the 60m and 200m dash events at the conference meet in New York for the second straight year and ranks 41st in the nation in the 60m event (7.41).  In three years, she has won five individual conference indoor gold medals and holds the school record in both events.

Women's distance runners Cody Mezebish (Westminster, Md./South Carroll) and Sarah Daly (Lake Orion, Mich./Lake Orion) also put together record-breaking seasons for the Retrievers.  The two traded the school record in the 1,000m with Daly claiming it now with a time of 2:53.04.  Mezebish, meanwhile, holds the top mark in the 800m with her silver medal-run of 2:12.44 at the conference meet.

In addition, junior Alisha Beeman (Bridgeport, Conn./Bunnell/Hartford) claimed the top spot in the Retriever record book in both the high jump and the pentathlon this season.  After breaking both records during the invitational season, Beeman bettered both at the conference meet.  On day one, the versatile junior reset the pentathlon mark with a score of 3,324 pts.  The next day, she bested her previous record, and the rest of the field, while clearing 1.74m (5'8.5") to win gold in the high jump.

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