University at Buffalo sprinter Ryan Billian earned a repeat trip to the NCAA Division I Track and Field Championships in impressive fashion earlier this month.
The junior from Long Island made it in a different event than last year.
Billian earned second-team All-America honors as a sophomore last year by placing 13th in the long jump at the NCAA meet at the University of Oregon. This year he didn’t make the NCAAs in the long jump, but he got there in the 100-meter dash.
The 6-foot-2, 202-pound Billian earned a spot in the 24-man NCAA East Preliminary Meet last week by running a personal-best time of 10.35 seconds at the Mid-American Conference meet. He placed second at the MAC event. He needed a top-12 finish at the East Prelims to get to the 24-man field at the NCAAs in Oregon, and he did it by placing ninth with a time of 10.41 seconds.
As a freshman in 2013, he won the MAC title in the 110-meter hurdles with a time of 14.05 seconds and was third in the 200 at 21.59 seconds.
“I only started hurdling my senior year of high school, but I’ve been long-jumping and running track since I was five,” Billian said. “I came here to UB and they said we’re going to have you hurdle, jump and sprint and see what sticks out. That first year the hurdles was my main event, the second year it was the long jump and this year it’s the 100.”
Billian said making the 100 his priority wasn’t the plan to start the season.
“I wasn’t really practicing long jump as much as I was practicing my speed for this year,” he said. “I didn’t make it into the preliminaries for the long jump. I made it in four different other events. I was kind of depressed because the long jump was the one I wanted to go for. But I said let me weigh my options. How am I going to make it to Oregon this time? I said my 100 can use work. If I pull my stuff together, I think I can do it.”
Billian envisions a sprint-long jump focus going forward.
“I’m going to stick with the 100 because that replicates the runway of the long jump,” he said. “They go hand in hand. The hurdles is more of a stretch.”
The defending NCAA champion in the 100 is Baylor’s Trayvon Bromell, and he’s top-ranked this year. He’s a sophomore with a qualifying time of 9.93 seconds. He won the 100 in 9.92 last June.