Bucknell University sophomore Maura Fiamoncini will compete in the javelin at the NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships today, after qualifying with a second-place finish at last weekend’s East Regional Preliminaries in Jacksonville.

Fiamoncini unleashed a throw of 53.89 meters (176 feet, 9 inches), her best of the 2019 season.

“I guess I was kind of relieved after taking that first throw,” Fiamoncini said. “That’s a throw that typically makes it into the second round, so I was able to kind of calm down for the next couple throws.”

She led throughout until Florida State sophomore Laura Paredes passed her with a throw of 53.99 meters (177-1).

This marks the second consecutive appearance at the NCAA Outdoor Championships for Fiamoncini, a Mount Carmel graduate. She finished 13th last year.

“Last year she started off with a huge bang and really exceeded our expectations the first month of the season, and then we knew she had a good chance to make the National Championships,” Bucknell coach Kevin Donner said.

“It was a long season; she was battling some injuries … and toward the end of the year she was throwing a little bit inconsistent. I think that was because of the injuries and we’re not used to having an athlete go that far into the year.”

The disappointing finish prompted Donner to change Fiamoncini’s training program for the 2019 season.

“This year we kind of took a different approach. We knew she was probably was going to make the NCAA Championships and we wanted to peak her at the NCAA Championships,” Donner said. “So (we) came up with a different strength plan … that would peak her later in the year, but can potentially slow her down in the earlier part of the season.”

With the slow start came some obstacles, Donner said.

“There was some impatience happening and some confidence may have been lost, but as we approached the championship meets, we saw some jump coming back to her legs and some jump coming back to her arm,” he said. “We do think she’s peaking at the right time.”

Both Donner and Fiamoncini feel that the competition will go smoother the second time around.

“I’m definitely more excited and less nervous going into it the second time,” Fiamoncini said, “just having this experience under my belt from last year.”

Donner agreed that last year’s experience would help.

“Last year was all kind of new to us and her,” he said. “The message going into last year at the East Preliminary was just to make the NCAA Championships. And when we got (there), I think the big stage might have affected her quite a bit. This year, with all the experience she has … she’s used to it. She’s not afraid of anybody right now, she can just kind of be herself.”

Donner says the goal is a top eight finish to secure a spot as a First Team All American, and to reach 54 meters, the 2020 Olympic Trials standard.

Stanford senior Mackenzie Little is the defending national champion. Also returning is Stanford junior Jenna Gray, who finished second at the 2018 Championships. Paredes finished third last year.

The 2019 Outdoor Championships are being hosted by the University of Texas at Austin. The women’s javelin throw will take place at 9:15 p.m. Thursday.