ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – UMBC senior Andrew Smith (Chadds Ford, Pa./Garnet Valley) placed 16th overall in the prelims of the 800m run, while competing as the sixth Retriever in program history to reach the NCAA Championships, Friday night at the national indoor track and field championships at the Albuquerque Convention Center.
Smith raced in heat number two of the prelims and completed the run in a time of 1:58.06. The top three runners from each heat automatically advanced to the finals, in addition to the next two fastest times. Iowa State's Edward Kemboi (1:48.37) led the pack as a whole while Florida's Ryan Schnulle paced the second heat (1:51.36).
Smith reset the school record in the 800m run three times this season, originally breaking the mark of 1:52.78 while winning the event and meeting the IC4A standard at the NYU Team Challenge on Jan. 24 by clocking in at 1:51.30. A week later he bettered his mark from the Armory by finishing second at the Penn State Nationals with a time of 1:49.15. In one last attempt to reach the NCAA Championships, Smith cut his time down to 1:48.82 at the BU Last Chance Meet in Boston on March 3.
In addition to snapping the school record, Smith protected his America East title in the event by taking the top spot at the Armory on Feb. 24 with a time of 1:51.17.
By reaching the national meet, Smith follows in the footsteps of UMBC head coach David Boob who became the first Retriever athlete to advance to the NCAA Championships in 1996. Bobb qualified for two more national championships and was succeeded by Cleopatra Borel (2002) and Huguens Jean (2003). Borel won the shot put event at the 2002 indoor meet to become the first Retriever national champion. Then last year, Mercedes Jackson (Huntingtown, Md./Huntingtown) reached both the indoor and outdoor championships with Vincent Rentzsch (Oranienburg, Germany/Elite Sportschule Potsdam) joining her in June in Oregon.