PUEBLO, CO - With competitors in the High Jump Final and the 4x400M Finals, the Firebirds saw their Outdoor Season come to an end at the NCAA Championships in Pueblo, CO on Saturday, May 25th, 2013.
Junior Shauna-Kay Creary finished 22nd in the High Jump, clearing 1.65M, a day after her All-American effort in the Triple Jump where she finished 8th with a mark of 12.36M.
The 4x400M Team of Kaydian Jones, Jerily Benjamin, Rochelle Nelson and Simone Grant were very competitive and were as close as 5th through the first three legs, but finished 9th in the Finals with a time of 3:49.68. The team may have finished significantly higher were it not for a dropped baton on the final leg. Still, their placing still ensures they will be ranked no worse than 11th overall in the Final Rankings for the 2012-2013 Outdoor Season in the 4x400M. (Final Rankings forthcoming)
"Our season ended on the last day of competition for all NCAA Division II Athletes, so we have no reason to hang our heads," head coach Alton McKenzie said. "Certainly there's some disappointment from the 4x400M, but two weeks ago, we were keeping our fingers crossed hoping to just make the field. We've had an amazing year, an All-American in the Triple Jump for the first in the program's history, and a 4x400M Team - all competing for the first time at a National Championship - who were finalists in the National Championships and just fell short of being All-Americans. Shauna-Kay, along with the relay team of Kaydian, Jerily, Rochelle and Simone have certainly placed UDC back on the National Level in Division II Track & Field. And all are returnees, so I look forward to us continuing to grow to bigger and better things in the future."
Firebirds Put Forth Outstanding Performances on Day Two of NCAA Championships
PUEBLO, CO – In what was a historic day for University of District of Columbia's Women's Track & Field, junior Shauna-Kay Creary had a career day in the Women's Triple Jump to make the finals in her first time competing in the event at the NCAA Championships. With a new Personal Best of 12.36M on her last jump of the competition, she was able to jump from 9th to 8th overall in the finals, and secure her place as an All-American. She became the first Firebird to not only compete in the Triple Jump but to also be an All-American in the event. She will now set her sights on the High Jump slated for Saturday at 7:30 p.m. ET.
Creary's accomplishments in the Triple Jump would give her teammates immense motivation as they contended the Prelims of the Women's 4x400M. In what would be an epic battle to secure one of the two automatic spots in the final (top two from each heat plus the next five fastest times qualify for the finals), the Firebirds would battle with Division II powerhouse The Academy of Arts down to the wire. With a great lead off leg from junior Kaydian Jones, the Firebirds were right in the mix in 3rd position behind St. Augustine and Emporia State. Sophomore Jerily Benjamin ran the 2nd leg and would battle with Emporia State throughout her leg with Academy of Art not far behind. She handed off a close 2nd to junior Rochelle Nelson who would run a tremendous leg to keep the Firebirds in 2nd place going into the final leg. Freshman Simone Grant then anchored the Firebirds in what would be a thrilling battle down the straightaway with the Academy of Arts closing rapidly, in an attempt to secure 2nd place (which would guarantee a place in the finals). The Firebirds were just edged out on the line with Academy of Arts running 3:44.58 to the Firebirds time of 3:44.68, a time one second faster than they ran to make the 4x400M Field at the NCAA Championships. With the solid time of 3:44.68, the Firebirds have the 7th fastest time heading into Saturday's Final, slated for 10:55 p.m. ET.
Head coach Alton McKenzie said he was elated with the success his student-athletes had on Friday, but not the least bit surprised.
"What an amazing day for UDC's Women's Track & Field program. We came into these Championships thrilled to make the field, but not with the mindset that we wouldn't be able to contend to score in the meet," he said. "Shauna's performance in the Triple Jump was nothing short of amazing. Making the finals was huge but by no means were we settling for that. She went for it on her last jump and pulled out a personal best to become an All-American her first time contending in this event at Nationals. This likely won't sink in until she's done competing this weekend as she still has the High Jump, and so the focus switches to that event."
"The 4x400M Team ran their hearts out last night, and it didn't go unnoticed. From the comments they shared with me that they got from their fellow competitors speaks to what they did Friday night. Kaydian, Jerily, Rochelle and Simone showed just how tough they are as competitors. To vie for an automatic place in the finals (just getting edged at the line) is no easy task. We're looking forward to today's final day and to have all our athletes competing on the final day of the National Championships is an amazing feeling. I'm so proud of these women I can't put it into words."