NEWPORT NEWS, VA - The University of the District of Columbia women's track & field squad kicked off its 2012-2013 Indoor Season with impressive performances at the CNU Holiday Open on Saturday, December 8th.
The Firebirds were led by a very strong performance from junior Kaydian Jones (Journalism – Kingston, Jamaica/St. Andrew HS), who opened her season in the Long Jump with a mark of 5.49M on her very first jump of the season. This was just shy of her career best 5.50M from last year and is just short of the NCAA Provisional qualifying mark of 5.51M. She was 3rd among 28 competitors and was the top Division 2 competitor in the event. Her mark of 5.49M puts her at 14th in the country in Division 2.
Jones had company in the Long Jump with fellow junior Shauna-Kay Creary (Accounting – Kingston, Jamaica/St. Andrew HS) finishing 10th overall with a jump of 5.06M, just missing the final round which would have afforded her an additional three jumps. Freshman Simone Grant(Health Education – Bronx, NY/Pelham Prep Academy) made her college career debut in the Long Jump with a mark of 4.81M, which was 18th of the 28 competitors.
"I'm very happy with how all our jumpers performed with this being our first time on a runway competitively in the Long Jump," head coach Alton McKenzie said. "Kaydian's 5.49M on her very first jump should be a confidence-booster for herself and her teammates, and I expect all three to continue to improve as we work on the technical aspects throughout the season."
The Firebirds then saw two more newcomers make their debut in the 400M with freshman Jerily Benjamin(Undeclared – Queens, NY/Phillip Randolph HS) narrowly missing a victory in Heat 7 with a time of 60.00 seconds for 2nd place and 10th overall among 40 competitors. Junior transfer Rochelle Nelson (Mass Media – Kingston, Jamaica/Holmwood Tech HS) was 5th in Heat 7 with a time of 60.8 seconds and was 17th overall. Also, junior Jeania Bagley (Journalism – Forestville, MD/Friendly HS) was 4th in Heat 2 at 66.92 seconds.
In the 600M, freshman Marlena Wright (Journalism – Bronx, NY/Dewitt Clinton HS) made an impressive debut winning Heat 1 with a time of 1:40.21, which was 5th overall amongst 12 competitors. Sophomore Kimoy Mais (Mass Media – St. Andrew, Jamaica/St. Andrew HS) was 8th and senior Callister Jones (Marketing – Fort Washington, MD/Oxon Hill HS) was 10th, with times of 1:42.41 and 1:44.98, respectively.
The Firebirds also had their sprint core compete in the 200M with Creary returning from the Long Jump to run an impressive 26.19 seconds to win Heat 8 handily. Her time was 10th overall in a field of 76 competitors. Junior Atiya Amis (Mass Media – Washington, DC/Dunbar Senior HS) was 3rd in Heat 8 with a time of 27.69 for 44th overall. Meanwhile, senior Shemeia Barnes (Criminal Justice – Forrestville, MD/Largo HS) was 3rd in Heat 7 with a time of 27.30 seconds for 37th overall. Freshman Christina Baker (Forensic Psychology – Kingston, Jamaica/Collegiate Institute for Math and Science) followed behind her in 4th with a time of 27.69 seconds for 42nd overall, and junior Jasmine Smith (Civil Engineering – Baltimore, MD/Polytechnic HS) finished 6th in the same heat with a time of 28.38 for 62nd overall.
The Firebirds wrapped up the CNU Open with 2 teams having strong performances in the 4x400M. The team of Simone Grant, Kimoy Mais, Marlena Wright and Rochelle Nelson were 3rd in Heat 3 and 7th overall among 22 Teams with a time of 4:03.76. The team of Kaydian Jones, Jerily Benjamin, Christina Baker and Callister Jones were 6th in Heat 3 and 14th overall in the 4x400M with a time of 4:06.70.
Head Coach Alton McKenzie was very pleased with his team's performance, especially given that this was just the first meet of the season.
"I'm cautiously optimistic about the potential I saw in the performances across the board, but it now means we need to try to meet the high standards we've set with how well we performed in our first Indoor Meet," McKenzie said. "I'm looking forward to coming back in January and continuing to build on the foundation we've laid with training the past few months and now also with what was accomplished at the CNU Open."