UCF Track and Field in Third After Day One of C-USA Indoor Championships

Feb. 27, 2009

HOUSTON, Texas (www.ucfathletics.com) - The UCF track and field team had an impressive day at the Conference USA Indoor Championships Friday, as the Knights used three second-place individual performances to sit in third place after the first day of competition at Yeoman Fieldhouse on the campus of the University of Houston. UCF also had several athletes perform well to qualify for final heats on Saturday.

Houston leads the meet with 31 points, just one point ahead of Rice (30) and four points clear of the Knights (27). SMU and UAB are tied for fourth with 21 points and round out the top five teams in the field.

"It was a good day overall as we are well on our way to a good performance at the conference indoor meet," said head coach Caryl Smith Gilbert. "Our team is very young so there were lots of up and downs, but we are learning a lot that we should be able to use tomorrow and in the outdoor season as well as in the future."

While the team as a whole had a good day, one UCF freshman became the first runner in school history to break a C-USA meet record. Crossing the line in the 60-meter hurdles with a time of 8.19, Jackie Coward (Knoxville, Tenn.) broke the school record she previously shared with junior Tiki James (Miami, Fla.) and also broke the C-USA meet record by nearly one-tenth of a second.

The opening event of the day was the pentathlon, and UCF sophomore Lizzie Harris (Miami, Fla.) had a strong performance to claim second place and earn the Knights eight points. Harris won both the 60-meter hurdles and the long jump in the pentathlon, and her school-record point total of 3,653 fell just 36 points shy of first place. Freshman Jacqueline Gilchrist (Tallahassee, Fla.) finished seventh in the same event, earning two points.

Harris also earned eight points for UCF in the high jump, claiming second place with a top leap of 5-8.75/1.75m. She came into the event as the defending champion in the event.

Senior Dione Thomas (Jacksonville, Fla.) used a strong effort in the long jump to finish second and earn eight more points for the Knights. Her top jump of 19-4.75/5.91m fell just shy of first place.

"The hurdlers did a great job today, especially Jackie Coward who set a new conference meet record and posted a provisional qualifying time in the 60-meter hurdles," said Smith Gilbert. "Lizzie Harris was also very impressive with a strong performance and scoring 16 points for us. Dione Thomas did a great job as she just missed qualifying in the 60-meter dash and posted a second-place effort in the long jump.

The distance medley relay team of Katrina Skinner (Tampa, Fla.), Olinka Crusoe (Harlem, N.Y.), Kathia Skinner (Tampa, Fla.) and Jamie Rzepecki (East Aurora, N.Y.) earned UCF's final point of the day with an eighth-place finish.

Preliminaries were run in numerous events as athletes tried to post a top-eight time and claim a spot in Saturday's finals. All told, six UCF runners earned spots in a final Saturday.

Along with Coward, another freshman performed exceptionally in the prelims, setting a school record and recording the best time of the day. Sheila Paul broke her own school record in the 60-meter dash while also setting an NCAA provisional qualifying mark with a time of 7.40. Her time was just ahead of UTEP's Gladys Nwaubani (7.42) for the best of the day. Paul also qualified for the finals in the 200-meter dash with a sixth-place time of 24.54.

"What an exciting race Sheila Paul ran in the 60-meter dash," said Smith Gilbert. "We have talked a lot about running an aggressive race and it came together. We will look for the same from her tomorrow."

James and sophomore Micaela Wimberly (Miami, Fla.) will join Coward in the finals of the 60-meter hurdles. James (8.31) had the third-best time of the heats while Wimberly (8.69) qualified in fifth.

Senior Shantile Blackburn (Brooklyn, N.Y.) will have a spot in the finals of the 800-meter run. The school-record holder in the event ran her heat in 2:13.22.

Saturday's action in the women's meet will get underway at 2 p.m. eastern time with the triple jump. Live results of the day's events can be accessed via http://flashresults.com/flashtexas/cusaindoor09/.

For the latest news on the Knights, log on to www.UCFAthletics.com - the official site for UCF varsity sports. The site, which also contains ticket and Golden Knights Club donor information, is also the home of UCF's new online apparel store. Also visit www.UCFPhotos.com, the exclusive fan source for UCF action sports pictures.

Conference USA Indoor Championships
Yeoman Fieldhouse, University of Houston - Feb. 27, 2009
Team Scores - Day One

1. Houston - 31
2. Rice - 30
3. UCF - 27
T4. SMU - 21
T4. UAB - 21
6. Southern Miss - 20
T7. Memphis - 19
T7. UTEP - 19
T9. Marshall - 14
T9. ECU - 14
11. Tulane - 10
12. Tulsa - 8

Individual Results
2. Lizzie Harris, 3653 (8 team points earned) (SR, PR)
7. Jacqueline Gilchrist, 3227 (2)
10. Natalie Braddock, 3083

Weight Throw
10. LaKendra Thames, 52-4.75/15.97m
12. Kelsey Poljansek, 51-8.25/15.75m (PR)
18. Jessica Francis, 49-4.25/15.04m

High Jump
2. Lizzie Harris, 5-8.75/1.75m (8)

Long Jump
2. Dione Thomas, 19-4.75/5.91 (8)
9. Tiki James, 18-5.75/5.63m
10. Jacqueline Gilchrist, 18-5.25/5.62m

60m (preliminaries)
1. Sheila Paul, 7.40 (+, SR, PR, FR) - qualified for Saturday's final
10. Dione Thomas, 7.56 (PR)

60mH (preliminaries)
1. Jackie Coward, 8.19 (+, MR, SR, FR) - qualified for Saturday's final
3. Tiki James, 8.31 (+) - qualified for Saturday's final
5. Micaela Wimberly, 8.69 - qualified for Saturday's final
13. Ashley Bolling, 8.91 (PR)

200m (preliminaries)
6. Sheila Paul, 24.54 (f) - qualified for Saturday's final
10. Jackie Coward, 24.85 (f)
17. Micaela Wimberly, 25.57 (f)

400m (preliminaries)
10. Aisha-Maree Frazier, 56.64 (f)
21. Olinka Crusoe, 1:01.96 (f)

800m (preliminaries)
4. Shantile Blackburn, 2:13.22 (f) - qualified for Saturday's final
13. Katrina Skinner, 2:16.41 (f)

11. Allison Palmer, 18:06.16 (PR)
16. Erica Weitz, 18:23.05 (PR)
18. Jamie Rzepecki, 18:40.94

+ = NCAA Provisional Qualifying Mark
MR = Meet Record
SR = School Record
PR = Personal Record
FR = Freshman Record