BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (UCFKnights.com) – The UCF track and field team came out strong on the opening day of the American Athletic Conference Indoor Championship in Birmingham.
The Knights used a trio of top five finishes and an eighth place relay finish to pick up 15 points on the opening day of action at the Birmingham CrossPlex. UCF also qualified nine members of its squad for Saturday’s finals in three different events.
“We did a great job today,” UCF head coach Dana Boone said. “We put people in the finals. It was great to see both hurdlers make the final. I was very pleased to get four in the finals for the 60m and three in the final for the 200. We scored in the long jump, weight throw and DMR tonight! We had more personal bests, even though some came up short of making the finals. This team is moving in the right direction and I’m excited for the ladies. We look forward to lining back up and competing tomorrow!”
The sprinters came out strong on the opening day of action. Four Knights qualified for the final in the 60-meter dash. Shian Hyde (7.44) and Imani Clark (7.47) each won their heat in the 60-meter dash to automatically move on. Ciara Holback turned in a personal best mark of 7.42 – the third-fastest time of the day – to qualify for Saturday. Nelda Huggins claimed the final spot in the finals with a time of 7.46.
UCF also turned in a dominant showing in the prelims of the 200-meter dash. After Clark edge South Florida’s Chelsea Francis for the top mark of 23.92 in the third heat, Hyde broke away from the pack to win the fourth heat in 23.78. Holback gave the Knights their third competitor in the finals as she won the fifth heat in 24.11.
The first points of the weekend came from a personal-best mark in the long jump for Devin D’Oliveira. On the sophomore’s final attempt, she landed at 19-2.25/5.85m to take fourth place and pick up five points for the Knights.
A pair of Knights combined for nine points in the weight throw. Jhane’ Carter’s third throw of the day – a personal-best mark of 65-8.25/20.02m – bumped her into fourth place. Gabby Durant joined Carter in the top five as her 64-11.25/19.79m mark gave her fifth overall.
Two Knights improved their marks in their respective events, but just missed the cut to advance to Saturday. Loren Gallmon lowered her time to 56.31 in the 400-meter dash, and Katie Pinnell shaved more than a second off her 800-meter time, dropping it to 2:11.82. In the weight throw, Shanell Atkins just missed out on adding to UCF’s point total as her 60-3.25/18.37m mark landed at ninth overall. Soteria Russell set a personal best in her conference championship debut as she finished 11th with a mark of 57-2.25/17.43m.
UCF will wrap up action in Birmingham on Saturday. In addition to the 60m, 200m and 60m hurdles, the Knights will compete in the 3000-meter run, triple jump, shot put and 4x400 relay.
3. Shian Hyde 7.44Q
4. Imani Clark 7.47Q
5. Ciara Holback 7.42q
8. Nelda Huggins 7.46q
12. Shaniya Williams 7.56
60m Hurdles Prelims
7. Zharia Moore 8.68q
8. Jayda Drake-Howard 8.76q
4. Shian Hyde 23.78q
5. Imani Clark 23.92q
8. Ciara Holback 24.11q
23. Shaniya Williams 24.92
4. Devin D’Oliveira 19-2.25/5.85m
4. Jhane’ Carter 65-8.25/20.02m
5. Gabby Durant 64-11.25/19.79m
Distance Medley Relay
17. Victoria Jung 5:03.93
12. Loren Gallmon 56.31
10. Katie Pinnell 2:11.82
16. Kaitlyn Soltis 2:20.82
*Photo courtesy of Ben Solomon/The American