FAIRFAX, VA - The Firebirds Indoor Track & Field squad's run of strong performances in the 2012-13 season continued at Saturday's Patriot Games, hosted by George Mason University.
"In what's been the biggest Patriot Games I've witnessed in a long time - 25 schools, 800 athletes - it was great to see our team compete hard and do well against great competition," head coach Alton McKenzie said.
Again, the Firebirds started with a bang in the Long Jump, which saw junior Kaydian Jones (Journalism – Kingston, Jamaica/St. Andrew HS) finish 5th among 36 competitors with a leap of 5.43M.
The Firebirds also had strong performances in the 60M with junior Atiya Amis (Mass Media – Washington, DC/Dunbar Senior HS) finishing 3rd in Heat 2 with a time of 8.18 seconds for 14th overall amongst 47 competitors. She just missed cracking the top-12 and qualifying for the finals. Also, junior Jasmine Smith (Civil Engineering – Baltimore, MD/Polytechnic HS) was 4th in Heat 1 with a time of 8.21 seconds for 16th overall.
Next on the track for District of Columbia were the quarter-milers who had a good showing in the 400M. Junior Rochelle Nelson (Mass Media – Kingston, Jamaica/Holmwood Tech HS) was the winner of Heat 3 with a time of 59.43 seconds, good for 5th overall among the large field of 46 competitors. She just edged out her teammate, freshman Jerily Benjamin (Queens, NY/Phillip Randolph HS), who finished 2nd in the same heat with a time of 59.46 for 6th overall. They were both followed by freshman Marlena Wright (Bronx, NY/Dewitt Clinton HS) who ran 59.97 and was the 8th best on the day. Also, senior Callister Jones (Marketing – Fort Washington, MD/Oxon Hill HS) was 3rd in Heat 4 with a time of 60.64, and sophomore Kimoy Mais (Mass Media – St. Andrew, Jamaica/St. Andrew HS) was also 3rd in her heat (Heat 5) with a time of 61.14 seconds for 18th overall.
The Firebirds then returned to the field events where their two competitors in the Triple Jump made it to the finals. Freshman Simone Grant (Health Education – Bronx, NY/Pelham Prep Academy) made her debut in the Triple Jump and had a strong showing good for an 8th place finish (field of 22) with a leap of 10.86M. She also had a jump of 11.29M which was not recorded due to the measurement limit of 11.30M at the Patriot Games.
Despite four fouls, two-time reigning East Coast Conference Field Athlete of the Week, junior Shauna-Kay Creary (Accounting – Kingston, Jamaica/St. Andrew HS) improved in the Triple Jump with a leap of 11.59M, which came on her last jump in the competition. This was good for 3rd overall in the field of 22 competitors.
The Firebirds then lined up several competitors in the 200M, with Kaydian Jones boasting a team-best, 4th place finish in Heat 1 with a time of 25.89 seconds (good for 8th best out of 65 competitors). Benjamin was 2nd in Heat 5 in 26.41 seconds for 16th best on the day and Callister Jones ran 26.91 for 3rd in heat six (26th best overall).
The Firebirds ended the day on a very high note in the women's 4x400M. The team of Marlena Wright, Kaydian Jones, Rochelle Nelson and Simone Grant ran a splendid race to finish 2nd only to Virginia State University. A strong lead-off leg by Wright, followed by Kaydian Jones, had the Firebirds among the pack with Virginia State way out in front. A tremendous 3rd leg by Nelson saw the Firebirds go from 3rd place to even with Virginia State for the lead going into the anchor leg. Grant ran a courageous anchor leg but was simply outdone by Virginia State's All-American Samantha Edwards and the team finished 2nd among 21 teams with a time of 3:56.14. This time converts to 3:53.05, which is the 17th best time run in Division II this season. That time also places District of Columbia as the 11th best school in the 4x400M in Division II.
"I can't say enough about our performance in the 4x400M," McKenzie said. "Special mention goes to Rochelle for a tremendous 3rd leg and Simone on the anchor leg running with one of the best 400M runners in the country. I'm elated that we have the 11th best 4x400M team in the country, but we can't rest on our laurels as other teams will be looking to get better come February. Still, we've shown we certainly have depth as we ran two seconds faster than last week with two different runners added this week. This is critical to running well in the 4x4, so I look forward to taking advantage of that depth and working together as a unit to get better in the weeks to come.
"Overall, this was another strong weekend for the team and I'm very proud of the way everyone competed today," McKenzie said.