GREENSBORO, N.C. – A lot had been written about sophomore Kiara Porter's lack of height when it comes to the 400-meter dash. None of that matter when Porter stepped onto the track on Friday in the NCAA East Semifinals, all that matter was a spot in the top-12 and advancing to the NCAA Championships in Oregon.
As she has many times before, Porter stepped up and delivered a record-breaking performance and became the first VCU female runner to earn a spot at the NCAA Championships in over 10 years.
"This is a dream come true for me. After just missing NCAA nationals by three spots last year, I pushed myself during the summer, fall and this spring to qualify this time around," Porter said. "God has equipped me with everything that I've needed to make it this far, and I'm sure he will carry me through the finals. I trust my training and I can't give enough praise to Coach Riley for being here every step of the way to encourage me and remind me that I'm capable of doing any and everything I set my mind to."
Needing to finish in the top-12 of the semifinals, Porter blistered the track to the tune of 52.33, good for a tie for the fourth-best time of the day. It was the second straight day she broke her own school record after clocking in at 52.41 in Thursday's East Preliminary Round.
"Kiara was determined to make it to NCAA nationals this year. She wasn't going to let anyone stop her," Head Coach Jon Riley said. "She stuck to the plan and ran the race like she knew she could. I am really happy for her. She set attainable goals and worked hard to achieve them. I'm a very proud coach right now. We have two of our hardest working athletes advancing to the highest level their sport has to offer."
Porter follows her teammate Jaleesa Williams, who earned a spot at the national meet in the discus yesterday. It's just the second time in school history that VCU has sent two females to the NCAA National Championships. The only other time came in 1997 when Beth Green and Maria Elena Calle made the trip to Bloomington, Ind.
The duo will have two weeks to prepare before heading to Eugene for the NCAA Championships, which are scheduled for June 5-8.