Coward Leads UCF to Fifth-Place Finish at C-USA Championships

Feb. 27, 2010

HOUSTON, Texas (UCFAthletics.com) - Led by an individual championship by sophomore Jackie Coward (Knoxville, Tenn.), UCF rallied with a strong effort on day two of the Conference USA Indoor Track and Field Championships to finish in fifth place Saturday at Yeoman Fieldhouse in Houston, Texas.

UCF finished the two-day championships with 60 points to claim fifth out of 12 teams. UTEP (113.50) won the event by narrowly edging Rice (110), who was followed by Houston (92) and Tulsa (89.50).

"We finished today much better than we began yesterday," said head coach Caryl Smith Gilbert. "The team really pulled together and earned quality points with some great performances. We left the meet with another Conference USA champion with Jackie Coward. It was good to see her compete in so many events and do well."

Coward won an exciting race in the 60-meter hurdles, narrowly edging teammate Tiki James (Miami, Fla.) by just one one-hundredth of a second. Coward crossed the line in 8.24 seconds while James finished in 8.25. Teammates Micaela Wimberly (Miami, Fla.) and Ashley Bolling (Tallahassee, Fla.) gave the Knights four of the top-seven in the event, finishing fourth and seventh respectively. UCF scored 25 of its 60 points in the 60-meter hurdles.

After a third-place finish in the weight throw Friday, senior LaKendra Thames (Winter Garden, Fla.) was again solid Saturday, taking second in the shot put to score eight points. Her best toss of 48-2.0/14.68m trailed only SMU's Simone du Toit. Thames was the team's high individual scorer for the championships with 14 points.

Newcomer Tomika Story (Orange Park, Fla.) had a personal best and took third place in the triple jump with a top jump of 41-4.50/12.61m. Sophomore Sheila Paul (Lauderdale Lakes, Fla.) was unable to defend her championship in the 60-meter dash, but still took sixth place and three points with a 7.50 in the event.

"I was very excited for LaKendra Thames this weekend," said Smith Gilbert. "She really had a great meet and was our team's high point scorer. Tomika Story was awesome in the triple jump with a huge personal best and a third-place finish. Mica Wimberly, Alyssa Franks and Jessica Francis also had personal bests which we are very enthusiastic about. We ended the meet in fine fashion with the mile relay running a very courageous and competitive race to the very end."

In the last event of the championships, Coward and Paul teamed with Champelle Brown (Oakland, Calif.) and Aisha-Maree Frazier (Marietta, Ga.) to take fourth in the 4x400-meter relay.

Numerous members of the Knights will move onto the NCAA Indoor Championships on March 12-13 in Fayetteville, Ark. Coward and James will be looking to repeat NCAA All-American performances from 2009.

The rest of the team will begin preparations for the outdoor season, which will culminate with UCF hosting the 2010 C-USA Outdoor Championships in May.

"We are very excited to be hosting the CUSA outdoor championships in May in Orlando and welcoming all of these talented teams and student-athletes to our campus," said Smith Gilbert.

For the latest news on the Knights, log on to 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 UCFPhotos.com, the exclusive fan source for UCF action sports pictures.

Conference USA Championships - Day 2
Houston, Texas - Feb. 27, 2010

Team Totals
1. UTEP, 113.50
2. Rice, 110
3. Houston, 92
4. Tulsa, 89.50
5. UCF, 60
6. East Carolina, 47
7. Southern Miss, 44
8. SMU, 36
9. UAB, 25
10. Marshall, 19
11. Memphis, 18
12. Tulane, 7

Shot Put
2. LaKendra Thames, 48-2.0/14.68m (8 points earned)
9. Jessica Francis, 42-4.25/12.91m

Triple Jump
3. Tomika Story, 41-4.50/12.61m (6)
10. Sonnisha Williams, 39-6.0/12.04m

High Jump
12. Sonnisha Williams, 5-3.0/1.60m

4. UCF (Champelle Brown, Jackie Coward, Aisha-Maree Frazier, Sheila Paul), 3:46.17 (5)*

1. Jackie Coward, 8.24 (10) - P
2. Tiki James, 8.25 (8) - P
4. Micaela Wimberly, 8.49 (5)
7. Ashley Bolling, 8.90 (2)

6. Sheila Paul, 7.50 (3)

32. Ocean Cohen, 10:37.51*

P = NCAA Provisional Qualifying Mark
* = time converted