Rayniah Jones Runs Nation's Second Fastest Time at Tiger Paw Invite

by Alex Clough

CLEMSON S.C. – Headlined by Rayniah Jones’ remarkable performance in the 60m hurdles to claim her fourth win of the season, the UCF Track and Field team impressed in the Friday slate of the Tiger Paw Invite and Music City Challenge. From Nashville, Tennessee, to just east in Clemson, multiple Knights affirmed their position among the top names in the Big 12.

This was a great start to the weekend. The hurdlers stepped up big and Rayniah Jones ran the number two time in the NCAA. I was very proud of their efforts. Kiah Williams did a great job this weekend and continues to improve.

Head coach Dana Boone

Friday’s action began with the 60m hurdles prelims consisting of 55 professional and collegiate athletes. In heat one, Adaobi Tabugbo impressed with a strong first round, claiming second with a time of 8.37. Minutes later, Jones bested the field in heat two with an opening 8.26 to secure an automatic qualification.

Y’Vette Harris, concurrently competing in the long jump, clocked a respectful 8.67 in heat six.

Alongside Asherah Collins, the duo embarked on the first field event of the Tiger Paw Invite. Collins notched an 18th-place finish with her first jump of the day, measuring 5.90m. The All-American will be back in the triple jump invitational tomorrow at 3 p.m.

In the 60m hurdles semifinals, Tabugbo and Jones were dynamic once again, as both secured a spot in the finals. Winning heat three in style, Jones ran a remarkable 8.02, placing first overall in the round. As for Tabugbo, her times continue to drop as she secured a personal best of 8.17, the second-best performance in the Big 12 this season.

The Knights were the only team to have two athletes advance to the finals as Boone and her squad continue to set the narrative at every meet they travel to.

Splitting the two final rounds of the 60m hurdles was the 400m. Kiah Williams continued her growth this season as she secured a season-best 53.11 and the highest finish of any Big 12 participant. Kai’lyn Kirkland would finish second in her section with a 56.01 performance.

With the attention of everyone at the Rock Norman Indoor Track on the finals of the 60m hurdles, Jones gave the crowd a show. After multiple weeks of banging on the door with 8.0 performances, the All-American went sub-eight for the first time since finishing third in the nation at the 2022 NCAA Indoor Championships.

Jones claimed her third-consecutive event win with an outstanding 7.95 performance, moving into second in the nation and reaffirming her position atop the Big 12. Tabugbo capped off her career day with a time of 8.27 and a seventh-place finish.

The tandem now sits one-two in the Big 12 ahead of the program’s inaugural Indoor Championship in two weeks.

Distance’s slate in Nashville began with the mile shortly after action was wrapped up in Clemson. Charlotte Crook notched a season-best 4:49.12 as she continues to impress in her final collegiate campaign. The fifth year was followed by freshman Abigail Stratton who ran a 4:52.44 to claim fifth all-time in program history.

Two more freshmen shined in the 600m, with Hannah Taylor (1:32.61) and Karin Dobiasch (1:34.11) securing top-10 finishes. The former placed fifth amongst a stacked field as Dobiasch followed in the seventh.

In the day's final event, Ali Del Re stole the show, smashing her record with a 17:33.31 performance in the 5000m to move into sixth all-time in program history. Paige Jaszczak followed in line with a career-best performance of her own, running a 17:47.15 in the final heat of the day.

The Knights will be back in action early tomorrow morning in Nashville as the 3000m gets underway at 9:30 a.m. Action from Clemson will resume with the 200m at 12:40 p.m.

At the Vandy Invitational, the distance group continues to improve. Great efforts across the board. Iā€™m very pleased to see the progress and Iā€™m looking forward to seeing continued improvement on the track tomorrow.

Dana Boone