WASHINGTON, DC - Picking up right where it left off in its historic indoor season, the University of the District of Columbia Women's Track & Field Team opened the 2013 outdoor season with strong performances at the University of Maryland's Terrapin Invitational on Saturday, March 30th.
"It felt great to get into our Spring Season with decent weather and very good performances to open the Outdoor Track Season," head coach Alton McKenzie said.
The Firebirds continued the trend of starting off well in the field by opening up in the day's first Women's Field Event - the Long Jump. Despite competing with a minor injury, junior Shauna-Kay Creary (Accounting – Kingston, Jamaica/St. Andrew HS) was able to finish 4th with a leap of 5.22M, despite passing on her final two attempts. But the day on the Long Jump runway belonged to junior Kaydian Jones (Journalism – Kingston, Jamaica/St. Andrew HS) who leaped a personal best 5.75M (18"10.5") on her fifth jump. That jump was good for a convincing win by over one foot and places her 18th best in the nation in Division II in the Long Jump.
Before jumping that personal best, Jones led off the 4x100M team with a tremendous leg to put the Firebirds out in front early. Though battling throughout the one time around the oval, the team of Kaydian Jones, Shauna-Kay Creary, Atiya Amis (Mass Media – Washington, DC/Dunbar Senior HS) and Simone Grant (Health Education – Bronx, NY/Pelham Prep Academy) had to settle for third amongst eight teams that competed, with a time of 47.81 seconds, just getting edged by Howard University with a time of 47.80. The Firebird 4x100M B Team, which consisted of Jasmine Smith (Civil Engineering – Baltimore, MD/Polytechnic HS), Shemeia Barnes (Criminal Justice – Forrestville, MD/Largo HS), Christina Baker (Forensic Psychology – Kingston, Jamaica/Collegiate Institute for Math and Science) and Jerily Benjamin (Undecided – Queens, NY/Phillip Randolph HS) were winners of the 1st heat and 4th overall with a time of 49.55 seconds.
The Firebirds also had strong performances in the 400M with three runners competing well. Rochelle Nelson (Mass Media – Kingston, Jamaica/Holmwood Tech HS) was tops for District of Columbia, finishing 6th overall amongst 19 competitors with a time of 58.01 seconds. She was followed by her teammate Jerily Benjamin who was 7th with a time of 58.12. Kaydian Jones completed her triple effort on the day with a personal best of 58.37 seconds for 10th overall.
"Kaydian's Personal Bests in the Long Jump and open 400M in the first Outdoor Meet should give her, along with her teammates, confidence that it's a sign of good things to come this spring," McKenzie said.
District of Columbia also had competitors in the 800M, with Kimoy Mais (Mass Media – St. Andrew, Jamaica/St. Andrew HS) and Callister Jones (Marketing – Fort Washington, MD/Oxon Hill HS) finished 1st and 2nd, respectively, in Heat 1. Mais led for the majority of the race and finished in 2:24.50 seconds, closely followed by Callister Jones with a time of 2:24.75 seconds. Their times left them 10th and 11th overall in a field of 23 competitors. Simone Grant struggled to get in fair jumps in the Women's Triple Jump, but still managed to finish 4th overall in a field of nine, leaping 11.17M.
The Firebirds ended the meet on a high note with two relays competing in the 4x400M. The team of Callister Jones, Shauna-Kay Creary, Shemeia Barnes and Kimoy Mais was 5th overall with a time of 3:58.80. Then, the team of Marlena Wright (Journalism – Bronx, NY/Dewitt Clinton HS), Jerily Benjamin, Rochelle Nelson and Simone Grant finished 3rd overall with a time of 3:54.15, with Rochelle Nelson running a tremendous 3rd leg and splitting 56.4 seconds to put the Firebirds within striking distance.
"I was very proud of the entire team, especially having two relay teams in each relay event (4x100M and 4x400M), and having both teams compete aggressively," McKenzie said. "It remains all about what we do as a group, so as long as we carry that through the Outdoor Season we will continue to make steady progress."
The Firebirds will look to build on their impressive start to the Outdoor Season when they venture to George Mason University's GMU Invitational on April 13th.