The No. 12 UCF track and field team could not have asked for a better start to the Conference USA Championships on Friday. After just two events, the Knights garnered three medals – all from underclassmen.
Freshman Anne-Marie Blaney pulled out a gutsy performance in the 10,000 meters with a new school-record time of 35:03.62 to become UCF’s first long-distance medalist at a C-USA Outdoor Championship. She led for 23 of the 25 laps before seniors Risper Kimaiyo (UTEP) and Rhiannon Johns (UAB) – who both rank among the NCAA’s top 20 this season – were able to capitalize off the final kick.
Blaney shaved roughly 36 seconds off her personal best to erase UCF’s 12-year-old record and claim the bronze medal. Her performance impressed Johns, who approached the freshman after the race to commend her for spirited run.
Sophomore Precious Ogunleye and redshirt freshman Kalen Hambrick became the first throwing duo in program history to medal in the same event at a C-USA Championship meet thanks to their outstanding performances in the hammer throw.
The Knights kept loose and had to adapt to several schedule changes after flash flood warnings in the area turned the sky black early. Luckily, by the time the hammer was supposed to begin at 3:30 p.m. ET, the sun came out and the Knights were ready to make their mark.
Ogunleye recorded her best throw on her final attempt (55.70m/182-09) to clinch silver for the best finish of her career. She finished third in the shot put at last year’s outdoor meet. Hambrick bested her personal record by nine feet, posting 54.60m/179-02 for the first medal of her career. Both became the first Knights to medal in the hammer at a C-USA meet.
After their first day of competition, the Knights are in second place with 20 points, trailing leader SMU by eight points. Competition begins Saturday at 5 p.m. ET with the long jump.
Sunday, all events are final with the championship set to conclude with the awards presentation at 10 p.m. ET. Both @UCF_Track and @ConferenceUSA1 will provide updates on Twitter, and the official hashtags of the championships are #CUSAChamp and #CUSATF.
Live results will be posted at the C-USA Outdoor Track and Field Championship Central and provided by Flash Texas. The Knights hope to become the first women’s program in conference history to clinch four-straight outdoor crowns.