School Record Lifts Williams to Nationals Berth

May 27, 2010

By Andrew Gavin

GREENSBORO, N.C. (UCFAthletics.com) - Freshman Sonnisha Williams got UCF off to a strong start at the NCAA East Championships Thursday at Irwin Belk Track, using a school-record performance in the long jump to advance to next month's NCAA National Championships.

The first of 11 UCF athletes scheduled to compete at the NCAA East Championships, Williams came through with the biggest performance of her young career. Down to her final preliminary jump and not in position to make the finals, Williams posted a jump of 20-6.25/6.25m, breaking the school and freshman records at UCF and earning a spot in the finals.

Williams' impressive jump held up over the three final jumps as the freshman finished eighth out of 48 competitors, easily earning one of the 12 spots to the NCAA National Championships from June 9-13 in Eugene, Ore.

Sophomore Sheila Paul, seeded 23rd in the 100-meter dash, flew out of her blocks in the prelims on Thursday afternoon, crossing the line in a personal-best 11.36 seconds to easily best her previous best of 11.51. Finishing third in her heat, Paul automatically qualified for Friday's East final at 6:15 p.m. Her time was the seventh-fasted in the 48-athlete field.

Already the school-record holder in the event, Paul would have set a new record Thursday but the race was not wind legal due to a helping wind of +2.4 meters/second. In Friday's three final heats, the top three from each heat plus the next three best times advance to the NCAA Championships.

Others competing for UCF on Thursday but not advancing were sophomore Jacqueline Gilchrist (19-8.75/6.01m) in the long jump, sophomores Jackie Coward (1:00.78, 38th) and Aisha-Maree Frazier (1:02.61, 46th) in the 400-meter hurdles, junior Carley Dart (2:13.63, 44th) in the 800-meter run and senior LaKendra Thames (46-6.75/14.19m, 37th) in the shot put.

"It was a very impressive performance from Sonnisha Williams as she qualified for nationals as well as junior nationals, and broke the school and freshman records," said head coach Caryl Smith Gilbert. "Sheila Paul ran a great race and was impressive in the 100. She is finally putting her race together and I expect she can still run a lot faster tomorrow.

"Jacqueline Gilchrist also performed well in her first time here. She came in ranked 45th and left finishing 19th. She also had a really big jump on her second attempt where she barely fouled. She became very consistent at the end of the year and I expect some big things from her next season."

Aside from Paul in the 100-meter East finals, UCF will have four other entries on Friday. Coward will be joined by senior Tiki James and junior Micaela Wimberly in the 100-meter hurdles prelims while Paul will also compete in the 200-meter dash prelims.

2010 NCAA Outdoor Track & Field East Championships
Greensboro, N.C. - Irwin Belk Track

Long Jump
8. Sonnisha Williams, 20-6.26/6.25m (+2.0) (SR, PR) - N
19. Jacqueline Gilchrist, 19-8.75/6.01m (+0.8)

Shot Put
37. LaKendra Thames, 46-6.75/14.19m

7. Sheila Paul, 11.36 (+2.4) (PR) - Q

44. Carley Dart, 2:13.63

38. Jackie Coward, 1:00.78
46. Aisha-Maree Frazier, 1:02.61

N - Qualified for nationals
Q - Qualified for Friday's finals
SR - School Record
PR - Personal Record