Hawaii track and field: 2 athletes ready for NCAA West regional

Alexis Brenzil and Kristen LaCosse prior to leaving for the NCAA West Preliminary competition. / Photo by Brian McInnis

UPDATE II: Kristen LaCosse ended her season in the NCAA West Preliminary second day of competition, as the Hawaii sophomore posted a time of 59.47 seconds in the 400 meters to take 20th overall out of 48 competitors in the region at Sacramento State.

She finished seventh in her heat.

LaCosse had posted a PR of 58.82 seconds the previous day to advance.


UPDATE: Kristen LaCosse is moving on in the NCAA West regional competition after posting a personal-best 58.82 seconds in the 400-meter hurdles at Sacramento State on Thursday. That was good for 21st of 48 competitors and she’s one of 24 moving on to the next round Friday.

From there, the field narrows again. She is attempting to become the first Rainbow Wahine to make nationals in that event since Angela Williams in 1982 and ’84, per UH.

Alexis Brenzil placed 13th in the javelin with a mark of 48.11 meters, which places her just outside the cut for making nationals. She can still get an invitation if someone in the top 12 withdraws. Unlikely, but possible.


Hawaii track and field athletes Alexis Brenzil and Kristen LaCosse have peaked at the right time. They hope there’s a little more peaking to be done today at the NCAA West Preliminary competition at Sacramento State.

Brenzil (javelin) and LaCosse (400-meter hurdles) got there by virtue of placing in the top 48 in the West during the season. The goal is to do well enough in Sacramento to advance to the national finals June 5-8 in Austin, Texas.

“It’s awesome they have the opportunity to represent UH on the mainland, at the biggest meet of the year,” UH track coach Tim Boyce said this week. “Both have competed really well all year and are competing at their highest level as we reach this part of the season. Both PR’d in their last meet, so they have good momentum going into this regional championship.”

LaCosse, a sophomore from Merrillville, Ind., is seeded 22nd in her event. The top 24 advance to the semifinal round on Friday.

She started out running the open 400, then had coaches push her to try hurdles. It amounts to a full lap around the track, with an added challenge. She’s been about as fast doing that as other runners in the straight 400 meters.

LaCosse began the season in the 60-second range but has progressed steadily to 59s, and is coming off a personal-best 58.83 at the Big West championships.

“I’m really not sure what to expect. I know it’s going to be a big level,” she said. “I’m just hoping I can use my competition to my advantage, and hopefully get a PR out of it.”

“Hopefully I can get another 58 at least,” LaCosse said.

Brenzil, a junior from Welland, Ontario, Canada, used to compete in heptathlon as well as javelin, but lately has been focused squarely on javelin.

She grew up playing catcher in baseball and softball in a small town near Niagara Falls. She loved gunning down would-be base stealers at second. That throwing ability translated pretty directly to javelin.

She’s coming off a personal-record 49.58 meters at the Big West championships, good for silver there.

“This year became so much more attainable,” Brenzil said. “We went from throwing 47s consistently to throwing 49s. That’s really what I was looking for, to see the progression.”

She hopes to to crack 50 to get in the top 12 for nationals.

“It’s kind of hit-or-miss for how everybody does that day,” she said.

Boyce credited his assistants Sean Gwi (hurdles) and Kaopua Sutton (throws) for helping the athletes progress.

“Kristen has improved her hurdle time by almost two seconds over 400 meters. That’s kind of unheard of in this event,” he said. “So I think that’s spectacular. And for Alexis to be on the door of 50 meters with the potential to possibly qualify for NCAA finals, we felt it was possible going into this year, but the fact they’ve made it a reality for both of them, is awesome and a testament to how hard they’ve worked all season.”