UCF Track & Field Claims Program-Best Second Place at C-USA Championships

May 16, 2009

TULSA, Okla. (www.ucfathletics.com) - Getting impressive results all day long, the UCF track and field team closed the Conference USA Outdoor Track & Field Championships strong on Saturday and finished in a program-best second place. Defending champion Rice took the title with 131 points, finishing 20 points ahead of the Knights, who took second place with 111 points.

Freshman Jackie Coward (Knoxville, Tenn.) continued a stellar freshman campaign with perhaps her strongest performance yet, claiming the individual event championship in the 400-meter hurdles and claiming second in the 100-meter hurdles. With her win in the 400-meter hurdles, Coward becomes the third UCF athlete and first freshman to win a C-USA outdoor individual event championship.

Coward's time of 59.27 seconds broke the freshman record in the 400-meter hurdles, but it was not until learning that teammate Lizzie Harris (Miami, Fla.) was disqualified that she was awarded first place. Harris crossed the line in first and it initially looked like the Knights took three of the top five spots in the event. After the disqualification, freshman Aisha-Maree Frazier (Marietta, Ga.) moved up to fourth place and earned her team five points. Coward won 10 points for the first-place finish.

In the 100-meter hurdles, Coward took second-place and eight points with a season-best time of 13.27 seconds. Teammates Micaela Wimberly (Miami, Fla.) and Tiki James (Miami, Fla.) crossed right behind Coward in third and fourth. Harris crossed in sixth place to give the Knights a combined 22 points in the event.

Junior LaKendra Thames (Winter Garden, Fla.) broke teammate's Kelsey Poljansek's (Milton, Kan.) record in the shot put, finishing in third place and scoring six points with a best throw of 49-6.50/15.10m. Poljansek took fourth place and five points with a throw of 48-10.25/14.89m.

In the first running event of the afternoon, the UCF 4x100-meter relay team claimed second place and eight points, crossing in 45.50 seconds. The relay team consisted of James, Harris, Coward and freshman Sheila Paul (Lauderdale Lakes, Fla.).

Paul had her typical strong efforts in both the 100- and 200-meter dashes. For the second-straight day, Paul broke her own school and freshman records in the 100-meter dash, crossing the line in third place in 11.51 seconds. In the 200, Paul took fifth place with a time of 24.07 seconds. The freshman won a combined 10 points in the events for UCF.

A pair of seniors had impressive showings in their final C-USA Championships. Senior Shantile Blackburn (Brooklyn, (N.Y.) took second place and eight points in the 800-meter dash with a time of 2:09.59.

Fellow senior Dione Thomas (Jacksonville, Fla.) surpassed her previous season-best in the triple jump by over a foot to finish in third place. Thomas' best mark of 42-6.75/12.97m earned UCF six points. The triple jump was the third-to-last event of the day and Thomas' performance gave the Knights a brief three-point cushion over the eventual champion Owls before Rice took five of the top eight spots in the 5,000-meter run.

In the final event of the day, the UCF 4x400-meter relay team looked to claim third place with a school-record time of 3:45.67, but the team was disqualified for a lane violation. The penalty combined with the disqualification in the 400-meter hurdles meant the Knights lost a total of 13 points on the afternoon.

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Conference USA Chmpionships - Day Three
May 16, 2009

Team Scores
1. Rice, 131
2. UCF, 111
3. SMU, 96
4. Houston, 86.50
5. UTEP, 79
6. Memphis, 68.50
7. Tulsa, 62
8. UAB, 48
9. Southern Miss, 44.50
10. East Carolina, 42.50
11. Tulane, 40
12. Marshall, 7

UCF Individual Performances
Shot Put
3. LaKendra Thames, 49-6.50/15.10m (SR, N) (6 points earned)
4. Kelsey Poljansek, 48-10.25/14.89m (N) (5)

Triple Jump
3. Dione Thomas, 42-6.75/12.97m (N) (6)

Pole Vault
Brittney McDermott, 10-6.0/3.20m (1)

2. UCF (James, Harris, Coward, Paul), 45.50 (N) (8)

3. Sheila Paul, 11.51 (+1.9) (SR, FR, N) (6)

2. Jackie Coward, 13.27 (+3.7)w (N) (8)
3. Micaela Wimberly, 13.51 (+3.7)w (N) (6)
4. Tiki James, 13.61 (+3.7)w (N) (5)
6. Lizzie Harris, 13.70 (+3.7)w (N) (3)

5. Sheila Paul, 24.07 (+2.3)w (4)

1. Jackie Coward, 59.27 (FR, N) (10)
4. Aisha-Maree Frazier, 1:02.03 (5)

2. Shantile Blackburn, 2:09.59 (8)

18. Jamie Rzepecki, 18:09.19
19. Erica Weitz, 18:14.57

N - NCAA regional qualifying mark
SR - school record
FR - freshman record