Track and Field Shines to Open Black and Gold Invitational

by Alex Clough

ORLANDO – There’s no better place to start the outdoor season than in front of your home faithful. On Friday, the UCF track and field team opened up competition in Orlando as a member of the Big 12 with the Black and Gold Invitational at the UCF Track and Field Complex.

Amongst a stacked field of programs from across the nation, one of the premier opening weekend meets saw multiple Knights shine to set the tone for tomorrow’s slate of events.

The weekend’s first event at the Black and Gold Invitational saw a fitting result, with Asherah Collins claiming first in the long jump dawning the colors. The All-American was firing on all cylinders from the start, securing a 6.18m on her first attempt before jumping her eventual winning mark (6.31m) in the third round.

Collins’ performance is currently the NCAA lead in the event as her eighth-place performance at the Big 12 Indoor Championships looks to have sparked early momentum during the first weekend of the outdoor season. Tomorrow, she’ll compete as the program record-holder in the triple jump at noon.

Leiya Green followed in ninth place with a strong opening mark of 5.83m. Alexis Waller, making her collegiate outdoor debut, secured a 5.46m opening mark, her best in Black and Gold thus far after a promising indoor campaign.

Holly Cassels and Y’Vette Harris embarked on the first javelin throw of 2024, as the former led the way in 18th with her 29.17m mark. Harris would claim 20th with a 27.60m performance.

The squad’s first track event of the weekend saw nine embark on the 200m. The Knights were led by none other than Kiah Williams who placed second second in the event with a personal-best 23.11, which currently stands third in the NCAA. Other notable performances included I’Asia Wilson (23.89) and Colleen Branch (24.06) who each placed among the top 20.

In the 1500m, the first of three distance races to conclude the evening, Karin Dobiach shinned in her first appearance in front of Knight Nation, finishing 18th with a time of 4:38.61.

Brenna Mullaney made her first appearance in the 2000m steeplechase this season, one of the premier outdoor events, and immediately found her footing. The Maryland native secured a second-place finish and a new personal-best 7:05.19.

Friday’s action wrapped up with the 5000m as five Knights laced them up at around 9 p.m. Abby Stratton led the way in third (17:52.19) in her first collegiate 5000m, while Paige Jaszczak set a personal best in fourth with her time of 17:54.71.

UCF will be back at it again tomorrow at 10 a.m. to conclude its first of two home meets at the UCF Track and Field Complex to open the outdoor season.