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2011-2012 UDC Women's Indoor Track & Field Season Preview

Fueled By Last Year’s Encouraging Season, UDC Women’s Indoor Track & Field Looks to Key Returners and Talented Incomers to Match Expectations for the 2011-2012 Season


The Firebirds return a strong team that made significant strides last year under Head Coach Alton Mckenzie.  Coach Mckenzie is entering his second year as head coach, and will be receiving help from Kevin Bembridge, who will be a Volunteer Assistant in his first season with the Firebirds.  In his first full season as head coach, Mckenzie looks to take the program to the next level for the 2011-2012 season. 

Highlighting the key runners for this year’s team will be returning All-American seniors Latoya Allen (Washington, DC – Dunbar Senior HS) and Kaneesha Hollis (Centreville, MD – North Caroline Senior HS) Both Allen and Hollis will be expected to take on the added responsibility of being competitive at the individual level as well as in the relays.  Allen will look to compound on her stellar junior year as she competes in the 400M and 500M, two events that Coach Mckenzie thinks will be a strength this year for the Firebirds.  Like Allen, Hollis will be a top competitor in the 400M long sprint, but she also gives the Firebirds leadership and experience in the 800M middle distance run.

While Allen and Hollis give the Firebirds a strong 1-2 punch at the top, the strength of the Firebirds is a combination of their depth, experience, and added talent to this year’s squad.  Returning junior Callister Jones (For Washington, MD – Onon Hill HS) is expected to contribute significantly in the 400M and 500M long sprint and the 800M middle distance run.  Additionally, Jones will be a key member of the Women’s 4x400M team, one that was 17th fastest in the nation for Division II last year.  Junior Shemeia Barnes (Forrestville, MD – Largo HS) will be expected to lead the 60M and 200M short sprints along with sophomores Jasmine Smith (Baltimore, MD – Polytechnic HS) and Shauna-Kay Creary (Kingston, Jamaica – St. Andrew HS).   Both Smith and Creary will compete in the 60M and 200M, with Creary also competing in the high jump and long jump for the Firebirds.  Returning junior Clarice Melvin (Lanham, MD – Crossland HS) will compete alongside Allen, Hollis, and Jones this season in the 400M and with Hollis in the 800M this season.  Sophomore Areial Clark (Kennesaw, GA – North Cobb HS) hopes to capitalize on last year’s impressive freshman season and vault into the national landscape for the shot put event.  Clark will also compete as a multi-athlete in the Pentathlon during the 2011-2012 indoor season.

The Firebirds post a strong returning class to this year’s indoor track and field team, but Head Coach Alton Mckenzie has also built a solid list of newcomers to bolster the Firebirds and add depth.  Transfer athlete Atiya Amis (Washington, DC – Dunbar Senior HS), who competed at Holy Family University last season, and incoming freshman Tatyana Commock (Washington, DC – McKinley Tech HS) will strengthen the Firebird’s short sprints in the 60M and 200M.  Another key addition to this year’s squad will be Kaydian Jones (Kingston, Jamaica – St. Andrew HS), who transferred from Division I North Dakota State University.  Jones is expected to be a key element to the outstanding 4x400M team and in the individual 200M and 400M sprints.  Her versatility can also be seen on the runway as she prepares to contribute in the long jump as well.

Rounding out the Firebird’s team will be freshmen Shelby Lambert-Chapman (Washington, DC – Dunbar Senior HS) and Kimoy Mais (St. Andrew, Jamaica – St. Andrew HS).   Multitalented Lambert-Chapman is an all-around athlete who will compete not only as a sprinter in the 60M hurdles, 200M, and 400M, but also in the Pentathlon.  Mais will provide depth to the group of quartermilers at UDC.  In addition to being a participant in the 400M and 500M long sprints, Mais will also join the 4x400M team.  As the season progresses, Coach Mckenzie will look to incorporate Mais into the 800M middle distances as well.

Last year’s successes coupled with this year’s promise have created a sense of expectation for Coach Mckenzie and the Firebirds.  “With our 4x400M team being the 17th fastest in the nation for Division II, we will look to build on that success for this year,” remarked Coach Mckenzie.  “I expect Hollis and Allen to lead our team not only in the relays but also in the individual events.” Mckenzie went on to add, “I’m hoping our sophomores and juniors will build on last year’s experience, and I expect the new additions to add depth in the sprint events.”  Regarding field events, Coach Mckenzie said he has high expectations for Shauna-Kay Creary in the high jump, Areial Clark in the shot put and Pentathlon, and Kaydian Jones in the long jump. 
Their off-season training has Coach Mckenzie feeling optimistic about the season and eager to get started.  “We’ve had a good fall of preparation.  With this being my first full season at the helm of this program, I’m looking for our Firebirds to have a great year.”