VANCOUVER – A 1-2 finish in the grueling women’s 10,000 metres highlighted an excellent opening day for the UBC Thunderbirds at the NAIA Outdoor Track and Field National Championships in Gulf Shores, Ala. on Thursday.

The UBC women lead the team standings with 23 points, 18 of which were earned in the final race of the day.

Vancouver native Jackie Regan passed teammate Amelie de Fenoyl on the last lap to claim the 10k national championship in 35 minutes and 58.82 seconds. De Fenoyl crossed the finish line in 36:01.97 to earn her second NAIA silver medal. The junior from Toronto was second in the women’s 5,000m at last year’s national meet in Marion, Ind.

With a throw of 42.39 metres, junior Christine Ausman of Ottawa placed fourth in the women’s javelin event, one spot better than the NAIA ranking she entered the national meet with.

The result today continues Ausman’s trend of improvement. She placed 14th in her first NAIA national meet in 2012 and moved up to ninth at last year’s championship.

On the men’s side, Andy White claimed silver in the men’s javelin competition for the second consecutive year. The senior from North Vancouver, B.C. recorded a career-best throw of 72.35 metres on his second attempt, breaking the 70-metre mark for the first time ever.

Thanks to White’s performance, the Thunderbirds will enter the second day with eight points, which is good enough for fifth place in the men’s team standings.

Both squads were also successful in getting athletes into event finals to be held either tomorrow or Saturday.

In the women’s 1500 metres, all three UBC runners made the final, which will be run on Saturday. Natalia Hawthorn(4:32.27) and Rhiannon Evans (4:32.97) finished second and third, respectively, in the first heat to qualify, while Catharine Farish (4:35.61) was second in her heat and safely advanced to the final.

Joy Spear Chief-Morris was second in her section of the women’s 200 metres. She will race in Saturday’s event final after clocking a time of 24.03 today.

Both UBC runners in the women’s 3000m steeplechase won their heats on Thursday. Micha Gutmanis finished the first race in 11:03.19, less than two seconds ahead of defending NAIA champion Sora Klopfenstein of the College of Idaho.

Maria Bernard, who came into the meet with the top time in the NAIA, finished the day with the top qualifying mark, claiming her heat in 10:45.25. Both will look to win the national title on Saturday.

The defending NAIA champion 4x800m relay squad was the only team to break the nine-minute barrier as the T-Birds claimed first in their heat, finishing in 8:56.42. The relay final will be run on Friday.

In her first national championship appearance, Sarah Korpach was seventh in her 400-metre hurdles race with a time of 1:04.75. The White Rock, B.C. native did not advance to the final.

Racing in the same heat, Luc Bruchet (3:52.65) and Jack Williams (3:52.95) were second and fourth, respectively, in their men’s 1500m race and earned spots in the event final on Saturday.

Surrey’s Justin Kent won his section of the men’s 3000m steeplechase in 9:24.93 to advance to the final on Saturday.

The UBC men’s 4x800m relay team will go for gold on Friday after running 7:38.25 to earn third place in its preliminary race.

Rookie Jesse Hooton rounded out the first day of competition by claiming 14th place in the men’s 10,000m-run with a time of 32:49.80.

The 2014 NAIA Outdoor Track and Field Championships, the 63rd edition for the men and the 34th for the women, continue until Saturday in Gulf Shores, Ala.

Friday’s action will include the two 4x800m relay finals as well as five field events. Action will also get underway for UBC in the 100m, 400m, 800m and 5000m runs as well as the women’s 4x400m relay.