UCF Claims Third for Program's Highest Finish in C-USA Indoor Championships

Feb. 28, 2009

HOUSTON, Texas (www.ucfathletics.com) - Getting individual event championships from senior Dione Thomas (Jacksonville, Fla.) and freshman Sheila Paul (Lauderdale Lakes, Fla.), the UCF track and field team finished in third place Saturday at the Conference USA Indoor Track and Field Championships at Yeoman Fieldhouse on the campus of the University of Houston. The third-place finish shatters the seventh-place finish in 2006 for the program's highest at the indoor meet since joining C-USA.

"It was a great day today with the best finish in school history at the conference meet," said second-year head coach Caryl Smith Gilbert. "I have to tip my hat to the team for coming through when it was most important. We are definitely headed in the right direction, and we will use this momentum as we head into the outdoor season and the C-USA outdoor meet in Tulsa in May. Our goal is to consistently be in the top three in the conference."

Rice won the C-USA indoor meet for the third-straight season, posting 148 points. Houston came in second with 98 points while UCF's total of 81 points landed the Knights in third. Memphis and UTEP rounded out the top five with 51 and 46 points respectively.

Thomas gave her team the overall lead in the day's first event, claiming the individual title and 10 points for the Knights in the triple jump. The senior, the UCF school record holder in the event, posted a mark of 41-7.0/12.67 to take first by just three-hundredths of a meter over Ashley May of Southern Miss. With her best effort of the season, Thomas also posted an NCAA provisional qualifying mark.

Paul gave UCF multiple individual indoor event champions for the first time and grabbed another eight points by winning a tight race in the 60-meter dash. She crossed the line in 7.44, just three-hundredths of a second ahead of Houston's Christie Jones.

The Knights claimed three of the top five spots in the in the 60-meter hurdles for a total of 18 points. Junior Tiki James (Miami, Fla.) took second with a season-best 8.24. Freshman Jackie Coward (Knoxville, Tenn.), who set the C-USA meet record in Friday's prelims, claimed third with a time of 8.31 while sophomore Micaela Wimberly (Miami, Fla.) finished in fifth place in 8.67. The times for James and Coward were NCAA provisional qualifying marks.

In the shot put, junior Kelsey Poljansek (Milton, Kan.) broke her own school record and finished in third place. Her best throw of 47-10.50/14.59m earned the team six points.

"It was a phenomenal performance by both Sheila Paul and Dione Thomas to set provisional qualifying marks and win their events," said Smith Gilbert. "Kelsey did a great job in breaking her own school record. Tiki James had a great effort and a PR in the hurdles. Coach [John] Ridgway did a great job getting Kelsey [Poljansek] ready for this meet, and coach Ty [Sanders] did a good job with the distance runners."

Senior Shantile Blackburn (Brooklyn, N.Y.) took fifth place and earned four points in the 800-meter run, finishing in 2:12.01. Paul backed up her win in the 60-meter dash with a sixth-place finish in the 200-meter dash, picking up three points with a time of 24.74. Senior Brittney McDermott (Oviedo, Fla.) also claimed sixth place and three points in the pole vault, clearing 10-0.75/3.07m with her top jump.

In the final event of the day, UCF finished fourth in the 4x400-meter relay. The Knights' lineup of Aisha-Maree Frazier (Marietta, Ga.), Coward, Thomas and Lizzie Harris (Miami, Fla.) posted a time of 3:48.09 and earned five points.

The Knights will have numerous participants competing in the NCAA Indoor Championships on March 13-14 in College Station, Texas. UCF begins the 2009 outdoor season with back-to-back home meets, hosting the Black & Gold Challenge on March 21 and the UCF Invitational on March 27-28.

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. 27-28, 2009
Final Team Scores

1. Rice - 138
2. Houston - 108
3. UCF - 86
4. UTEP - 54
5. Memphis - 51
6. SMU - 45
7. Tulsa - 42
8. Southern Miss - 40
9. UAB - 32
T10. Marshall - 20
T10. Tulane - 20
12. East Carolina - 14

Individual Results
Triple Jump
2. Dione Thomas, 41-7.0/12.67m (+) (10 points earned)
11. Micaela Wimberly, 38-9.50/11.82m

Shot Put
3. Kelsey Poljansek, 47-10.5/14.59m (6) (SR)
12. LaKendra Thames, 41-5.25/12.63m

Pole Vault
6. Brittney McDermott, 10-0.75/3.07m (3)

1. Sheila Paul, 7.44 (+) (10)

2. Tiki James, 8.24 (+PR) (8)
3. Jackie Coward, 8.31 (+) (6)
5. Micaela Wimberly, 8.67 (4)

6. Sheila Paul, 24.74 (f) (3)

5. Shantile Blackburn, 2:12.01 (f) (4)

21. Kathia Skinner, 5:27.34 (f)

17. Jamie Rzepecki, 10:26.64
21. Allison Palmer, 10:31.68
22. Erica Weitz, 10:41.88

4x400-meter relay
1. UCF `A', 3:49.29 (5)

+ = NCAA Provisional Qualifying Mark
SR = School Record
PR = Personal Record