(Ben Solomon/American Athletic Conference)

Knights Saw Growth in 2020 Campaign

ORLANDO (UCFKnights.com) – Despite the UCF track and field team's 2020 season being cut short just as the Knights were preparing to open the outdoor portion of the campaign, head coach Dana Boone liked what she saw from her team during the indoor campaign.  
"Overall, we made a lot of improvements in terms of everyone getting better," Boone said. "We had a lot of personal bests. We still need to work on the total team effort and showing up when it counts.
A pair of personal bests in the 60- and 200-meter dashes at the season-opening Orange and Purple Elite led Shian Hyde to UCF's first indoor American Athletic Conference Runner of the Week honors since 2017.
Kiara Lee became the third rookie during Boone's tenure to add her name to the record book. The Madison, Wisc., native tied UCF's freshman record in the triple jump with a 40-feet, 2-inch triple jump performance at the Charlie Thomas Invite on Feb. 8.
The Black and Gold sent a young squad to The American Indoor Championship, with 10 of the 18 competitors making their indoor championship debuts.
"When you look at the number of first-time conference competitors it brings it more into perspective," Boone said. "We still only brought 18 athletes to the meet. When you look at the fact you can bring 32 athletes and we only took 18, you know there is a lot of upside for improvement in our conference finishes in the future."
With finalists in six events, UCF saw Knights in three more track event finals than at the 2019 indoor championship. The Black and Gold sent a trio to the 60m and 200m finals, a pair to the 800m and one to the 400m, mile and 60m hurdles. In all, eight different competitors earned 11 final spots.
"I saw a lot of fight within the team. They found ways to get into the finals. I always stress to the team that they have to run the prelims like it is a final - that is the only way to ensure you will have another opportunity to run. I think we just need to continue to work on finishing."
UCF earned three podium finishes. Shian Hyde had a hand in all three - earning a pair of bronze medals individually in the 60m and 200m and closing out the weekend back on the podium as a member of the 4x4. The 4x4 relay, which finished seventh at the 2019 championship, saw a five-spot improvement in 2020, bringing silver medals back to Orlando. The distance medley relay also improved two spots from its 2019 finish.
The lone freshman in the 60-meter hurdle finals, Rayniah Jones just missed the podium, finishing fourth at her first indoor championship as a Knight.
"In spite of how well we did, we still placed 8th," Boone said. "There was only an eight-point swing from 4th through 8th place and only a 32-point swing from 1st to 8th. This is a conference where every point counts. We will continue to add more scoring potential to the team and be ready to fight for a championship, hopefully sooner than later."
With the indoor season wrapped, the Knights turned their focus to the stronger of their two track and field seasons – the outdoor slate.  Unfortunately, spring competition was halted before the Black and Gold were able to compete in a meet.
Despite a shortened season, Coach Boone saw promise in her young squad.
"We still had some areas that were capable of doing some things, but we just didn't get it done," Boone said. "That will come from experience so we will build on that next year. However, we are definitely moving in the right direction."