PRINCESS ANNE, MD - The University of the District of Columbia opened its 2015-2016 Indoor Track & Field campaign with several strong performances on Saturday at the Wm. P Hytche Athletic Center at the University of Maryland Eastern Shore's Lid Lifer Invitational.
"Despite this being a small meet (as it relates to number of schools competing), I was very pleased with the competitiveness in every event, and this team's effort to compete aggressively," head coach Alton McKenzie said. "We had very good competition across the board in each event and that helped us measure where our fall training has us as we prepare for a long Indoor Season."
Starting out for the Firebirds was senior captain and two-time All-American, Simone Grant who made her first appearance of the season in the Women's Long Jump, finishing 2nd with a leap of 5.37M among seven competitors. Her teammate, senior Brittany Okon was 5th overall with a mark of 4.87M.
First track participants for the Firebirds were sophomores Stacy-Ann Rowe and Shayna Hodge competing in the Women's 60M hurdles. Rowe was making her debut as a Firebird and finished 2nd with a time of 9.58s, followed by Hodge's 9.63s for 3rd among four competitors. Rowe would return to the track to compete in the 60M Dash, running 7.94s to win her preliminary heat. She later returned for the final and finished 4th in a time of 8.15s.
The longer sprints also featured Firebird competitors and saw the pair of graduate Jerily Benjamin and senior Marlena Wright competing in the 500M. Benjamin won her heat over her teammate Wright as the two ran times of 1:20.40 and 1:20.94, respectively. They finished 4th and 5th overall among the six competitors.
Junior transfer Jasmine Walker also made her debut as a Firebird winning her heat in the 200M with a time of 26.72s. She finished 4th overall among 15 competitors in the event.
Other strong performances included Simone Grant leading off Firebird Team A in the Women's 4x400M Relay, along with a strong closing leg by Marlena Wright in the 4x400M relay for Firebird Team B.
Freshman Saida Burnsmoore would round out the day for the Firebirds competing in the Women's High Jump immediately after competing in the Women's 4x400m relay. Despite any fatigue, she cleared 1.60M to win the event and end the day on a high note for the Firebirds.
"Our goal now is to make sure we stay healthy and use this meet as a springboard for a good start to 2016 when our season kicks into high gear come January."
This season opener ends the Firebirds meets for 2105 and leads them into the winter holiday break. The season will resume on January 9th, 2016 when UDC competes in the Father Diamond Invitational at George Mason University.