Track and Field Impressive in Third-Place Finish at Conference USA Championships


May 18, 2008

EL PASO, Texas (www.ucfathletics.com) - The UCF track and field team recorded its best finish in school history at the Conference USA Outdoor Championships, finishing third on Saturday at the 2008 edition of the meet at Kidd Stadium in El Paso, Texas. The Knights recorded three school records, four personal-best marks/times, eight NCAA regional-qualifying marks/times and scored 60 team points on the final day of competition.

The strong finish at the Conference USA Championships was just another impressive accomplishment in a remarkable season of firsts under the direction of first-year head coach Caryl Smith Gilbert. UCF's highest finish at the C-USA Outdoor Championships prior to this season was a fifth-place showing in 2007.

Rice claimed the 2008 Conference USA Outdoor title with a score of 175, while host UTEP was second with a total of 143.50. UCF finished in third place with 84.33 points, its most points in a C-USA outdoor meet in school history.

The Knights now have 14 NCAA regional-qualifying marks/times on the season. That eclipses the previous season-best of eight regional-qualifiers that the Knights had both in 2004 and 2005. The NCAA East Regional takes place May 30-31 in Tallahassee, Fla.

"We had a great track meet today," Smith Gilbert said. "We scored 60 points in one day and everyone came through in their individual events. We finally met our goal of finishing in the top three at the conference meet and that is something that we have worked on for the entire year. We had great performances this weekend from several individuals - Shantile Blackburn, Sheree Carter, Victoria Chin, Lizzie Harris, LaKendra Thames, Virginia Traynor and Dione Thomas - who all worked hard to do their best and score points for the team.

"Hats off to the seniors, who gave everything they had," Smith Gilbert continued. "Kristen Zieminski and Karen Kozub ran great today. We will miss Liz Miller and Allison Palmer, who ran well last night. We had three school records and four PRs, and that is a tremendous feat on the final day of a conference championship because everyone is tired. The 4x400 relay was outstanding and showed great promise by bettering its time by over two seconds and qualifying for the regional meet. At this point, we have a full field going to regionals - Tallahassee, here we come!"

The Knights broke school records in the 4x400-meter relay, the 100-meter dash (Dione Thomas) and the 800-meter run (Shantile Blackburn). Those records have been broken several times this season, as UCF has charted 21 school records, including nine during the outdoor season.

UCF capped off the evening in fine fashion as the 4x400-meter relay squad of Feyisara Adaramola (Bronx, N.Y.), Victoria Chin (Orlando, Fla.), Shantile Blackburn (Brooklyn, N.Y.) and Lizzie Harris (Miami, Fla.) broke its own school record by 2.59 seconds with a regional-qualifying time of 3:40.31 to finish second in that event.

Each of the participants in the 100-meter hurdle finals notched impressive performances. Chin would have broken the school record in that event with a regional-qualifying time of 13.61 to finish fourth, but the time was strongly wind-aided (+2.9). Junior Sheree Carter (Tallahassee, Fla.) was sixth in the 100-hurdles in an NCAA regional time of 13.88, a personal-best mark, and Harris recorded a time of 13.95 to finish eighth.

Junior Dione Thomas (Jacksonville, Fla.) had regional-qualifying times/marks in both the triple jump and the 100-meter dash, breaking the school record in the 100-meter dash with a time of 11.74 (+1.5) and a leap of 42-0/12.80m in the triple jump.

Each of the team's 800-meter runners scored points for the team on Saturday. Junior Shantile Blackburn (Brooklyn, N.Y.) finished second in the finals of the 800-meter run with a school record, regional-qualifying and personal-best time of 2:08.89. Senior Karen Kozub (Alden, N.Y.) was sixth in a time of 2:14.78 and senior Kristen Zieminski (Sarasota, Fla.) finished seventh in 2:16.23.

Harris was second in the finals of the 400-meter hurdles, running a regional-qualifying time of 1:00.56, while Chin was sixth with a time of 1:03.02. Harris, a freshman, posted a remarkable day on Saturday in her first-ever Conference USA meet. She finished second in the finals of the 400-meter hurdles, was the anchor leg of the 4x400-meter relay and finished eighth in the 100-meter hurdles.

Sophomore LaKendra Thames (Winter Garden, Fla.) registered a season-best toss of 151-3/46.10m in the discus, as she and Christina Raphael (Miami, Fla.) both qualified for finals in that event.

Freshman Ocean Cohen (Sarasota, Fla.) ran a personal-best time of 19:38.56 in the 5,000-meter run.

The Knights return to action May 30-31, when they travel to Tallahassee, Fla., to compete in the NCAA East Regional hosted by Florida State University.

For the latest news and information on the Knights, tickets or apparel, log on to www.ucfathletics.com - the official site for UCF varsity sports. Also visit www.ucfphotos.com, the exclusive fan source for UCF action sports pictures.

Conference USA Women's Outdoor Track and Field Final Team Standings
1. Rice - 175
2. UTEP - 143.50
3. UCF - 84.33
4. UAB - 70
5. SMU - 64
6. Memphis - 58
T7. Tulsa - 51.50
T7. Houston - 51.50
9. Southern Miss - 45
10. Tulane - 39
11. Marshall - 19.33
12. East Carolina - 17.83
UCF Individual Results - Saturday, May 17, 2008 (Kidd Stadium - El Paso, Texas)

Discus (RQS: 155-2/47.30m)
6. LaKendra Thames - 151-3/46.10m RQS, Season Best
8. Christina Raphael - 144-5/44.02m
16. Jessica Francis - 132-0/40.23m

Triple Jump (RQS: 40-5/12.34m)
4. Dione Thomas - 42-0/12.80m (+3.5) - RQS

4x100-Meter Relay (RQS: 45.58)
4. UCF - 45.60

1,500-Meter Run (RQS: 4:31.94)
10. Karen Kozub - 4:55.51

100-Meter Hurdles (RQS: 13.88)
4. Victoria Chin - 13.61 (+2.9) w RQS
6. Sheree Carter - 13.88 (+2.9) w RQS
8. Lizzie Harris - 13.95 (+2.9) w

100-Meter Dash (RQS: 11.72)
4. Dione Thomas - 11.74 (+1.5) RQS, School Record

800-Meter Run (RQS: 2:10.28)
2. Shantile Blackburn - 2:08.83 RQS, School Record
6. Karen Kozub - 2:14.78
7. Kristen Zieminski - 2:16.23

400-Meter Hurdles (RQS: 1:00.71)
2. Lizzie Harris - 1:00.56 RQS
6. Victoria Chin - 1:03.02

5,000-Meter Run (RQS: 17:10.50)
28. Ocean Cohen - 19:38.56 PR

4x400-Meter Relay (RQS: 3:41.56)
2. UCF `A' - 3:40.31 - Feyisara Adaramola, Victoria Chin, Shantile Blackburn, Lizzie Harris RQS

--UCF Athletics--