FAIRFAX, VA - In its final tune-up before the Division II Team Challenge next week, the University of the District of Columbia women's indoor track and field squad had several impressive individual and group performances at the Patriot Games hosted by George Mason University on Saturday, January 28th.
According to head coach Alton McKenzie, the highlight of the meet for the Firebirds was Kaneesha Hollis (Centreville, MD - North Caroline Senior HS) and Callister Jones' (Fort Washington, MD - Oxon Hill HS) performance in the 400M race. Jones took the field out aggressively the first 200M, and was only headed by her hard-finishing teammate, All-American Kaneesha Hollis, right at the finish line. Hollis won in 58.92, just edging Callister Jones who ran 58.93. This was the first 400M for both athletes this season.
"I can't say enough about Kaneesha and Callister in their first 400M of the season," McKenzie said. "They have been running as a tandem since cross country season, so I expect them to continue helping each other to get even better as the season progresses."
Tatyana Commock (Washington, DC - McKinley Tech HS) also had a big day for UDC with strong performances in the 60M and 200M. She ran a personal best, 7.96 in the preliminary run and then came back to win 2nd place in the Section 2 final at 7.99, which was good for 7th overall in a field of 28 competitors. She also ran a 26.81 to finish 5th overall in a field of 29 competitors in the 200M.
Meanwhile, Atiya Amis (Washington, DC - Dunbar Senior HS) also impressed in the 60M and 200M races. In the 60M, she ran a personal best for the second straight week with a time of 8.04 in the preliminary round, then made it back to the finals where she was 5th in 8.19. Amiss finished 11th overall in a field of 28 competitors. She was also 14th in the 200M with a time of 27.97.
In other track events, the Firebirds' 4X400M team overcame an injury to Kaydian Jones (Kingston, Jamaica - St. Andrew HS) to run a season-best 3:58.40 and finish 3rd place out of eight teams. The team consisted of Callister Jones, Latoya Allen, Tatyana Commock and Kaneesha Hollis.
"The 4x400 team showed we had some depth as Tatyana stepped in to replace Kaydian due to an injury. I thought Tatyana had a great meet overall coming off the double in the 60M and 200M to run a good leg on the 4x4," McKenzie said.
Highlights in the field events included Kaydian Jones' career debut in the long jump. She opened with a 5.06M on her very first jump, and was 8th place out of 17 competitors. However, she sustained an ankle injury and was unable to compete in the finals.
In the high jump, Shauna Kay Creary (Kingston, Jamaica - St. Andrew HS) cleared 1.5M to finish 7th out of 15 competitors.
McKenzie said he was not surprised by the UDC athletes' continued improvement, and they have all benefitted from competing amongst Division I schools the last few weeks.
"We had some injuries to deal with (Kaydian Jones and Areial Clark), but that's a part of the sport," McKenzie said. "The positives on Saturday outweighed the setbacks for sure. We're looking forward to the Division 2 Team Challenge next week so we can measure ourselves against some of the best Division 2 Teams in the country."
Next week's NCAA Division II Team Challenge is in Geneva, OH and takes place on Friday, February 3rd.