Track and Field Off to Strong Start at Big 12 Outdoor Championship

by Alex Clough

WACO, Texas – Headlined by Kiah Williams’ strong preliminary performance in the 200m, multiple Knights started their weekend off strong during day one of the Big 12 Outdoor Championship. Hosted at the Clyde Hart Track and Field Stadium, the UCF track and field team began its debut appearance with a promising display.

In the first of four events on a busy Thursday slate for Holly Cassels and Natalia Madison, the former commenced action with a 14.64-outing in the 100m hurdles to claim first in heat one. Her 12th-overall showing was bested by Madison who placed seventh following a respectful 14.49 in heat four.

Cassels would lead the way in the high jump, matching her season-best with a 1.64m-mark and a 10th-place finish. Madison trailed in 12th as she bowed out of the event at 1.61m to finish 12th. Building on her strong start, Cassels smashed her personal best in the shot put with her 11.77m throw, placing seventh in the event and moving her within the top eight.

In the last of four events to begin the heptathlon, Madison placed sixth to conclude Thursday’s action in eighth, running a 24.74 in the third heat. Cassels capped off her brilliant outing with her second personal best, clocking in at 25.77 to put herself on pace for a career finish tomorrow afternoon.

After Four Events

8. Natalia Madison: 3,148 Points

11. Holly Cassels: 3,136 Points

Around an hour after Cassels and Madison wrapped up their afternoon, the Big 12 Championship went into an inclement weather delay. With just two events left for the Knights, the 200m prelims wouldn’t get underway until 10:25 p.m. CT. 

After just missing the finals of the 200m during the Indoor Championships, Kiah Williams left no doubt in her performance this evening, clocking a 23.19 to win heat one and tally an automatic qualification. With the 400m prelims on deck tomorrow for the senior, she will look to qualify for the finals in each event for the second consecutive season after placing eighth (200m) and second (400m) at the 2023 American Athletic Conference Championship.

I’Asia Wilson just missed out on the final herself, crossing the line at 23.61 to place 11th. Paige Archer (23.98) and Janyah Jasper (24.29) rounded out the Knights’ quartet in 23rd and 27th.

A pair of freshmen concluded the night with respectful performances in the 400m hurdles. Brianna Rodriguez capped off her debut season in Orlando with a 1:01.99 to claim third in her heat, while just behind her, Y’Vette Harris ran a 1:02.03 in her first of two events this weekend.

Harris will be back in action tomorrow along with 14 other Knights as multiple preliminary events, paired with the conclusion of the heptathlon and two finals in the long jump and 3000m steeplechase, will make for an entertaining Friday slate. 

The heptathlon long jump will begin at 12:45 p.m. ET, while track events begin with the 100m hurdles prelims at 6:15 p.m. ET.