FARMINGDALE & FLUSHING, NY - With some exemplary performances on both days of the inaugural East Coast Conference Outdoor Track & Field Championships, the University of the District of Columbia finished as the runner-up for the team title behind Georgian Court with a score of 162.
Day One saw the Field event portion of the Championships get underway on Saturday. The Firebirds opened the meet with an NCAA-worthy mark from junior Shauna-Kay Creary (Accounting – Kingston, Jamaica/St. Andrew HS). Her win in the High Jump with a mark of 1.73M puts her 9th best in the nation in Division II.
The momentum was carried over to the Javelin throw which saw freshman newcomer Tiara Goode (Forensics – Brentwood, NY/Brentwood HS) adding a crucial point in the Javelin Throw and finishing 6th overall with a throw of 24.66M.
Next event sent Creary to the runway, but this time it was the Long Jump runway where she placed 3rd with a mark of 5.34M. But it was her teammate, junior Kaydian Jones (Journalism – Kingston, Jamaica/St. Andew HS) who made a big statement in the Long Jump with a dominating performance. She could have won the competition on her first leap of 5.53M, but she saved the best for last with a leap of 5.76M which was an NCAA Provisional Qualifier and the 34th best jump in the nation. She continued what would be a very long weekend of competing individually with a 5th place showing in the Triple Jump with a mark of 11.16M - her very first time competing in that event. Teammate freshman Simone Grant (Health Education – Bronx, NY/Pelham Prep Academy), who was the Indoor Triple Jump Champion, came up just short in this meet, leaping 11.51M to finish second. (The winner jumped 11.52M)
The Firebirds ended the first day trailing Georgian Court 114 to 37 after eight events.
Sunday morning saw the Firebirds begin their march towards closing the gap with the beginning of the track events. Kaydian Jones, competing in her 1st of four events on the day (and six overall), had an exceptional finish in the Women's 400M Hurdles. In her first time running this event this season, she finished with a time of 65.14 seconds, which was good for 2nd place. Junior Jeania Bagley (Journalism – Forestville, MD/Friendly HS) was 5th with a time of 70.65 seconds.
Next on the track was the beginning of the sprinting dominance, where the Firebirds won all but one sprint event. The first victory came in the 4x100M with the team of Jasmine Smith, Shauna-Kay Creary, Atiya Amis and Simone Grant taking home the gold with a time of 48.30 seconds.
That strong showing in the sprints would continue with the 100M. Six Firebirds placed in the finals among the eight competitors. Junior Jasmine Smith (Civil Engineering – Baltimore, MD/Polytechnic HS) was 6th, junior Atiya Amis (Mass Media – Washington, DC/Dunbar HS) finished 5th, Grant was 4th, and Creary was 3rd, just getting edged out for 2nd (12.69 to 12.70). Kaydian Jones continued her tremendous performance by winning the 100M comfortably with a time of 12.39 while going into a strong headwind.
Next up for the Firebirds were the quarter-milers. The Firebirds occupied the top four places as well as the 6th place finisher, securing five of the six places that scored in the event. Freshman Marlena Wright (Journalism – Bronx, NY/Dewitt Clinton HS) was 6th in 60.67, junior Rochelle Nelson (Mass Media – Kingston, Jamaica/Holmwood Tech HS) was 4th in 59.47, sophomore Kimoy Mais (Mass Media – St. Andrew, Jamaica/St. Andrew HS) was 3rd in 59.24, sophomore Jerily Benjamin (Undecided – Queens, NY/Phillip Randolph HS) was 2nd in 57.27 and the winner was senior Callister Jones (Marketing – Fort Washington, MD/Oxon Hill HS), who won in a season's best 56.88 seconds.
The Firebirds surprised the field in the 800M to have a scorer in the event, with Mais returning from the 400M to have a strong showing in the 800M. She closed strongly in the last 200M to place 3rd with a time of 2:23.70 seconds.
District of Columbia got back to their strength in the sprints when all six scorers in the 200M were Firebirds. Callister Jones was 6th in 26.75, Amis was 5th in 26.69, Creary was 4th in 26.15, Nelson was 3rd in 26.13 and Grant was 2nd in 26.01 - her 5th event of the Championships). Kaydian Jones completed her sprint double with a superb performance in what was her 5th event on the day, winning in 25.38 while running into a strong headwind of -2.0.
The Firebirds would close the meet by scoring in both remaining relays. The 4x800 Team of Callister Jones, Kimoy Mais, Jeania Bagley and Rochelle Nelson picked up the bronze with a 3rd place finish, running 10:19.43. Then, the 4x400M team closed the meet in style. The team of Marlena Wright, Jerily Benjamin (her 4th event of the day), Simone Grant and Kaydian Jones won the event comfortably with a time of 3:56.03.
The Firebirds' tremendous effort was still not quite enough to overcome the depth of the Georgian Court Lions in the throws. Despite winning almost every sprint event, the Firebirds would score 162 points to finish 2nd overall, with Georgian Court finishing with 211 points to take the team title.
"I am so proud of the effort we put in during this weekend, I can't put it into words. I asked a lot of the entire team, particularly Kaydian, Shauna-Kay and Simone, who all competed in six events - they gave me everything they had," McKenzie said. "Even though we came up short, I'm overwhelmed with pride and joy knowing how much the team stepped up to the challenge and how well we performed during our first ECC Outdoor Championships. We have some very tough competitors and it showed this weekend. Our performance in the sprints was nothing short of amazing, and the versatility we showed with winning the Long Jump, High Jump and finishing 2nd in the Triple Jumps shows the quality we have on this team on the track and in the Field. Scoring and medalling in all the relays also speaks volume to our depth as well. I look forward to even better performances once we get a chance to focus on pursuing NCAA marks in the coming weeks."
The Firebirds return to the track after a busy Conference Championship weekend to compete Friday, May 3rd, 2013 at the Kehoe Twilight Meet to strengthen their chances to compete at the NCAA Championships later in the season.