STATEN ISLAND, NY - Competing at one of the premier meets being held over the Valentine's Day weekend, the University of the District of Columbia women's track & field team came away with several big performances at the Fastrack National Invite hosted by Manhattan College at the Ocean Breeze Complex.
There were big performances on the track and in the field, and the Firebirds wasted no time getting off to a fantastic start. Freshman standout Saida Burns-Moore competed in a very strong field in the High Jump - one of only four Division II competitors in the field. She more than held her own, ending her day with a new personal best of 1.70M - good for 4th among 19 collegiate athletes competing in the event. This mark places her tied for 11th in all of Division II, and is also a new UDC Indoor School Record for the Women's High Jump.
The Firebirds then had a solid performance from sophomore transfer Stacy-Ann Rowe in the 60M Hurdles. Rowe ran a season best, 9.28s for 29th of 39 competitors.
Action moved back to the Field where senior standout Simone Grant continued her weekly improvement in the Long Jump, leaping out to an Indoor season-best and equaling her collegiate best overall with a mark of 5.57M. This was good for 4th among 18 jumpers in the Invitational section of the Long Jump, and still, even more impressive, 4th among all 40 total Long Jumpers competing at the meet. This mark is also an NCAA Provisional qualifying distance and places her tied for 33rd in all of Division II.
Several more season bests and personal bests would follow for the Firebirds in another sprint event - the 60M. Rowe returned to run a season best time of 7.84s - which was 19th among 39 competitors. Her teammate, Jasmine Walker was 7th in the same heat, also finishing with a season best time of 7.96s to finish 28th overall. But the biggest performance in the event came from Grant, who ran a personal best time of 7.80s - good for 17th fastest among the 39 competitors and the 2nd fastest time by a Division II performer on the day. Grant's time was also not far off the NCAA Provisional mark of 7.73 seconds.
Action then returned to the field with Burnsmoore competing in the Triple Jump. She finished 11th among 22 competitors, bounding out to 11.05M.
Next up, on the track in the 400M for the Firebirds, was graduate Jerily Benjamin, who ran out an easy winner of heat 5, running a time of 57.71 seconds. She was 16th best among 23 competitors in the Invitational and 16th among 40 competitors overall.
The Firebirds closed out their great day of performances with Grant in the 200M Invitational section. She ran a season best 25.06s for 4th in her heat and 14th of 21 competitors in the Invitational Section (44 competitors overall), and easily the top Division II athlete in the event. Her time is an NCAA Provisional Qualifying mark and places her 32nd in Division II.
Head coach Alton McKenzie said the goal all year has been to be prepared for the championship portion of the season, and the performances at Friday's Fastrack Invite indicate they are ready.
"We're fine tuning and getting ready to compete at our Conference Championships, so I'm looking forward to us being at our best - as a team - in two weeks. The work continues, and I'm excited for what's to come for the remainder of the Indoor Season."
The Firebirds return to Ocean Breeze Athletic Complex in two weeks to compete at the 2016 ECC Indoor Track & Field Championships.