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Firebirds Continue to Soar at Patriot Games

Jerily Benjamin nearly closes on the Howard 4x400M relay team during the anchor leg. The Firebirds were the 2nd best of 17 teams in that event.
Jerily Benjamin nearly closes on the Howard 4x400M relay team during the anchor leg. The Firebirds were the 2nd best of 17 teams in that event.

FAIRFAX, VA - With yet another great set of performances, the University of the District of Columbia women's indoor track and field team started February on a high note at the Patriot Games hosted by George Mason University.

As she has been all season, senior Kaydian Jones (Journalism – Kingston, Jamaica/St. Andrew HS) was in great form.  Despite the fact that she had not participated in the 60M so far this season, Jones opened with a personal best 7.83 seconds.  This was good enough to make the finals of the Non-Division I section.  This final had athletes who were unattached to a competing school and wound up being the faster of the two Final Heats.  Jones was still able to finish 3rd in the final with yet another personal best, running 7.72 seconds.  This is an NCAA Provisional qualifying time, and ranks her 18th best at the distance in Division II. 

Star quarter-miler Jerily Benjamin (Health Education – Queens, NY/Phillip Randolph HS) has continued to improve weekly in her pet event.  Benjamin finished 2nd in Heat 3 in the 400M with a time of 58.24.  Again she achieved a season's best time, and was just edged out for the win.  Her time was 5th best overall amongst 51 competitors, but was the 3rd fastest by a collegiate athlete.

On the field the Firebirds were led by senior Shauna-Kay Creary (Accounting -- Kingston, Jamaica/St. Andrew HS), who is rounding into form.  She cleared 1.61M in in the High Jump to finish 7th out of 18 competitors. 

When action returned to the track, Jones was back at it again.  She won Heat 3 of the 200M convincingly with a time of 25.55 seconds.  Her time was 5th best amongst 68 competitors.  She would end her long day on the track by leading off the 4x400M team in what would be an exhilarating final. 

After Jones' blazing first leg, she handed the baton to freshman Charmaine Sweeney (Computer Science - Landover, MD/Largo HS) with a sizeable lead. Sweeney was able to keep the team in contention and had the Firebirds in striking distance in 2nd place.  Third leg runner Marlena Wright (Journalism – Bronx, NY/Dewitt Clinton HS) tried to cut into Howard University's lead, running a good leg to hand off to the anchor runner, Benjamin.  In a heart-pounding finish, Benjamin was able to close the gap.  As the runners approached the line, Howard University barely fended off the Firebirds' comeback.  The quartet of Jones, Sweeney, Marlena Wright and Jerily Benjamin were 2nd best amongst 17 teams in the 4x400M.  They finished with a time of 3:56.57.

Head Coach Alton Mckenzie was proud of his Firebirds.  "We've had a great stretch for the past four weeks, showing improvement as a team, and most importantly learning to compete aggressively.  I'm pleased with our progress and now we can look to get ready for the Championship portion of our season in the next few weeks."

The Firebirds do not have a meet next week, and will be taking a break.  However, the season has yet to reach its climax.  On February 14th, the Firebirds will return to action in New York at the Rider/Lafayette Invitational.