PRINCETON, NJ – While the weather was cold and snowy outside, the Firebirds were heating up the track and field this past Saturday, January 25th in Jadwin Gymnasium at Princeton's Tiger Open.
Senior Jasmine Smith (Architecture--Baltimore, MD/Polytechnic HS) got the Firebirds off to an excellent start by running a season's best in the 60M. She improved her time to 8.14 seconds, and finished 3rd in Heat 1. That was good enough to get her into a very competitive 60M Final. Here, she improved once again by running a blazing 8.07 seconds.
In her season debut in the High Jump, Shauna-Kay Creary (Accounting--Kingston, Jamaica/St. Andrew HS) leapt to a mark of 1.55M; 9th best of 15 competitors in the event. Also on the field, Kaydian Jones (Journalism--Kingston, Jamaica / St. Andrew HS) was 10th best of 22 Long Jump competitors with a mark of 5.09M.
The Firebirds returned to the track for the 400M, and this event saw both UDC participants win their respective Heats. Charmaine Sweeney (Computer Science--Landover, MD/Largo HS) claimed 1st place in Heat 2 by running a 60.82. This was two hundredths of a second behind her personal best of 60.80. Her teammate Jerily Benjamin (Undeclared–Queens, NY/Phillip Randolph HS) came away with 1st place in Heat 1 with a season-best 58.67. Benjamin was the top performer overall out of nine competitors, and Charmaine Sweeney finished 4th. Benjamin's time of 58.67 is not far off of the NCAA Provisional Qualifying Time of 57.96 seconds. This is an incredible start for the sophomore, especially considering that this was her first 400M race of the calendar year.
The Firebirds' streak of good performances continued in the next event on the track, the 500M. Marlena Wright (Journalism–Bronx, NY/Dewitt Clinton HS) was 3rd in Heat 3, and 6th overall of 10 competitors in the event. She ran a season-best 1:20.08. Teammate Kimoy Mais (Mass Media--St. Andrew, Jamaica/St. Andrew HS) won her Heat handily, and was 7th overall with a time of 1:20.26. This is just shy of her personal best of 1:20.23.
The biggest performance of the day for the Firebirds came in the 200M. In the very first Heat, Kaydian Jones had a splendid start, putting the race out of reach in the first 60 meters. She won her Heat by over a full second. She stopped the clock in a new season's best and indoor personal best of 25.18 seconds. This time moves her up the NCAA Provisional qualifying list in the 200M. She is now 8th best at the distance in Division II.
The Firebirds closed the invitational with another strong performance in the 4x400M Relay. With just a short break, Kaydian Jones returned to lead off the relay squad and had the Firebirds in contention, just behind the University of Delaware. The battle between both teams continued through the 2nd and 3rd legs run by Kimoy Mais and Marlena Wright. It came down to the anchor leg performance from Jerily Benjamin who pulled away to secure first place right at the finish line. The team ran to a winning time of 3:57.35.
Head Coach Alton Mckenzie summed up the meet and team focus. "All in all, it was a great team performance, and I'm pleased with our progress as we head into February. We had a great meet, but by no means does this make our season. We have a lot more big meets to look forward to and hopefully big performances. The key is for us to stay healthy and keep competing hard."
The Firebirds will look to do so as they return to action at George Mason University for the Patriot Games on February 1st.