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University of the District of Columbia Earns Historic First ECC Indoor Track & Field Title

University of the District of Columbia Earns Historic First ECC Indoor Track & Field Title

SOUTH HUNTINGTON, NY - With dominant performances in all the sprint and jump events, the University of the District of Columbia pulled off an amazing feet to take home the inaugural East Coast Conference Women's Indoor Track Title. With just 13 athletes, the Firebirds accomplished this only by winning all but one event they entered and having multiple scorers in each of those events.

"I'm overwhelmed with joy that we were able to win this historic championship," an elated head coach Alton McKenzie said. "We knew it would take big efforts in all the sprints and jumps to make up for our absence from all the distance events and throws. I knew we would do well, but never in my wildest dreams did I expect us to win all but one of the events which we had athletes entered in."

The day started with pivotal performances in the Long Jump event. Freshman Simone Grant (Health Education – Bronx, NY/Pelham Prep Academy), who was competing for only the second time as a collegiate athlete in the Long Jump, finished 5th with a jump of 5.37M. Junior Kaydian Jones (Journalism – Kingston, Jamaica/St. Andrew HS) continued her consistency in the Long Jump this season by finishing 4th overall with a jump of 5.43M. But it was the performance of junior Shauna-Kay Creary (Accounting – Kingston, Jamaica/St. Andrew HS) who highlighted the jumpers on the day as she won the Long Jump on her very last attempt with a well-timed, personal best - landing a jump of 5.77M. This mark put her at 14th in Division II in the event.

While busy winning the Long Jump, Creary was simultaneously competing in the High Jump, where there was a lot of action as well. Competing in her first High Jump competition of the season, she pulled off the upset by winning the event with a personal best of 1.68M. This was also an NCAA Provisional height - her 4th event in which she has earned an NCAA Provisional qualifying mark.

Kaydian Jones would also run from the long jump runway to compete in another event as she headed to the track to anchor the 4x200M team to victory. It would be a sign of things to come on the track as the team of senior Callister Jones, sophomore Jerily Benjamin, senior Shemeia Barnes and Kaydian Jones led from start to finish to spark a great start for the Firebirds on the track.

While the Firebirds were busy lining up three athletes in the finals of the 60M, the pair of Grant and Creary were busy making leaps and bounds in the Triple Jump to put themselves in position to score crucial team points. Creary fought through tired legs to make it to the finals of the Triple Jump after also competing in the 60M Trials. But ultimately it was the freshman, Simone Grant who would pull off the upset to defeat her teammate by shattering her personal best, bounding out to 11.70M to take the win and relegate Creary to a very respectable runner-up slot with a mark of 11.56M. (Both marks being NCAA Provisional qualifying distances)

 "I'm so thankful for all the efforts Coach Bembridge put in with our jumpers to get them to rise to the occasion today," McKenzie said. "It certainly contributed greatly to our efforts to make a run at the team title."

Though placing well, the Firebirds found themselves down by close to 30 points after dominant performances from league newcomer, Georgian Court, which placed athletes 1st –through-4th in the Shot Put and 1st-through-3rd in the Weight throw. District of Columbia would look to cut into the gap in the 60M, and they did just that. With a slew of juniors competing, a 6th place finish by Atiya Amis (Mass Media – Washington, DC/Dunbar Senior HS) in 8.23 seconds, along with personal bests  by both Kaydian Jones ( 2nd in 7.84 seconds) and Creary (3rd in 8.85 seconds) did the trick. They were just edged out by Georgian Court's Susan Lora, who won with a time of 7.83 seconds.

The Firebirds would continue to chip away at the deficit with the 500M next up on the track. Freshman Marlena Wright (Journalism – Bronx, NY/Dewitt Clinton HS) was able to lead that effort by taking home the gold with a time of 1:19.56 seconds. She was chased the entire way by teammate, sophomore Kimoy Mais (Mass Media – St. Andrew, Jamaica/St. Andrew HS), who finished 2nd overall with a time of 1:20.23 seconds - a personal best. Freshman Jeania Bagley (Journalism – Forestville, MD/Friendly HS) added a valuable point by finishing 6th overall with a time of 1:30.76, despite running with one shoe the last 300M of the race.

The sprint dominance continued in the 400M with District of Columbia sweeping the top three spots. The Firebirds were led by junior Rochelle Nelson's (Mass Media – Kingston, Jamaica/Holmwood Tech HS) post to victory in 58.85 seconds, followed by Jerily Benjamin with a time of 59.21 seconds. Callister Jones rounded out the sweep, finishing 3rd with a time of 61.42 seconds.

With four events remaining, the Firebirds found themselves down by 16 points (128 to 112). With competitors in only the 200M and 4x400 (and none in the 4x800M and 3000M), how well they performed in the 200M would decide if a team title was still in their grasp.

With yet another fine display of sprinting and the best finishes on the day in any individual event, the Firebirds were able to score five athletes in the 200M, taking the first four places along with a 6th place finish, scoring 29 points in this event. Kaydian Jones earned her fourth event win of the day with an impressive 25.77 seconds, Creary was 2nd in 25.86 seconds (her fifth event of the day), Simone Grant 3rd in 26.27 seconds (her third event of the day), Rochelle Nelson 4th in 26.67, and Callister Jones closed out the scoring finishing 6th in 27.07 seconds.

With only the 4x400M event left and a four-point lead, the Firebirds put on the finishing touch of the day with a convincing win in the 4x400M, leading from start to finish. Marlena Wright led off, putting District of Columbia ahead comfortably. Jerily Benjamin further extended that lead on the 2nd leg to establish a sizeable lead for 3rd and 4th runners Rochelle Nelson and Simone Grant (her 4th event of the day), who were returning from the 200M with tired legs. The 4x400M team's time of 4:04.97 was good for a 10-second victory over the 2nd place team.

In the end, University of the District of Columbia came out victorious by a narrow margin of six points, winning 151-145 and capping off an amazing day with the young program's first ECC Indoor Track Championship Title.

"To win this Team Championship with 13 athletes is truly amazing and speaks to the character and toughness we have on our team," McKenzie said. "We earned this victory as a team with everyone contributing and I'm so happy we were able to achieve this for our program and more importantly the University of the District of Columbia."


Women's Team Results



1. District of Columbia


2. Georgian Court


3. Molloy


4. Roberts Wesleyan


5. Queens


6. St. Thomas Aquinas


7. Daemen



Event Winners

60m dash - Susan Lora, Georgian Court, 7.83
200m dash - Kaydian Jones, District of Columbia, 25.77
400m run - Rochelle Nelson, District of Columbia, 58.85
500m run - Marlena Wright, District of Columbia, 1:19.56
800m run - Julia Berkowicz, Roberts Wesleyan, 2:20.97
1,000m run - Rachel Cannon, Roberts Wesleyan, 3:08.87
1 mile - Rachel Prutsman, Roberts Wesleyan, 5:02.84
3,000m run - Indira Avila, Queens, 10:19.31
5,000m run - Indira Avila, Queens, 17:44.88
60m hurdles - Chanel Rogers, Georgian Court, 9.06
4 x 200m relay - District of Columbia, 1:45.93
4 x 400m relay - District of Columbia, 4:04.97
4 x 800m relay - Roberts Wesleyan, 9:56.98
Distance Medley Relay - St. Thomas Aquinas, 12:58.35
High Jump - Shauna Kay-Creary, District of Columbia, 1.68m
Pole Vault - Ashley Meyer, Queens, 2.59m
Long Jump - Shauna Kay-Creary, District of Columbia, 5.77m
Triple Jump - Simone Grant, District of Columbia, 11.70m
Shot Put - Tiffany Okieme, Georgian Court, 13.95m
Weight Throw - Alyssa Hudgins, Georgian Court, 18.60m