FAIRFAX, VA - Looking to seal a place at the NCAA Division II Indoor Track & Field Championships, the Firebirds had seniors Simone Grant and Jerily Benjamin compete at George Mason University's Last Chance Meet on Sunday, two days after their scintillating performances at the East Coast Conference Championships.
Grant was already on the NCAA Provisional List in the Long Jump and looked to improve her placing. Though not able to improve her NCAA position, she still finished 3rd among 12 competitors with a mark of 5.43M.
Benjamin was up next, competing in the 400M. She would complete yet another scorching running of this event, winning her heat convincingly in 57.45s (converted to 56.70s for track size), and finish 3rd fastest on the day among 19 competitors - 2nd fastest by a collegiate athlete. That effort moved her up the NCAA Provisional qualifying list to 43rd in Division II.
Grant then looked to improve her NCAA placing in the 200M, and also had a convincing win in her heat. She ran a personal best 25.12s (converted to 24.74s for track size) to finish 3rd among 17 competitors, and also the 2nd fastest collegiate athlete. This time puts her 32nd among all NCAA Division II athletes in the 200M.
According to head coach Alton McKenzie, the last chance efforts of Benjamin and Grant may not be enough to secure places at the NCAA Championships, but both came away with personal bests in their respective track events.
"Their efforts coming off one day's rest after a grueling ECC Championships says it all," McKenzie said. "Personal best in the 200M for Simone, and the same for Jerily in the 400M is just amazing, and more than I could ask for as their coach. They are true competitors....whether they get into the NCAA Championships or not won't change that. I'm excited for what's to come for the rest of this season."