The No. 12 UCF track and field team crowned its first Conference USA outdoor champion of 2013 and moved into first place in the team standings on Saturday. With 39 points and a total of five medals, the Knights have put themselves in position to become the first female team in C-USA history to achieve four back-to-back outdoor titles.
Alexis Faulknor’s buzz-worthy and historic performance in the long jump catapulted her to No. 3 in this year’s NCAA standings. She became the first female freshman in C-USA history to clinch gold in the event with a wind-aided 6.56/21-06.25 (+2.7).
Faulknor obliterated her former personal best time and again as she soared better than 21 feet on four of her six attempts. After securing gold on her third leap, she went on to shatter UCF’s freshman record by nearly 11 inches on her sixth and final jump, recording a wind-legal 6.52m/21-4.75 (+0.3).
“I’m so excited,” Faulknor beamed before receiving her medal on the podium. “I just came out here and really wanted to win, especially for the team.”
C-USA Indoor long jump champion Jen Clayton soared to a silver medal with a much-improved personal best 6.49m/21-03.50 (+1.3). She, too, bumped up in the NCAA standings to No. 5.
The Knights put in a solid day’s work on the track by earning 11 entries in five events of Sunday’s finals.
Junior Afia Charles clocked the fastest time of heat three in the 400-meter prelims to secure an automatic bid to Sunday’s finals. She matched her season-best 53.77 to rank third overall.
Three Knights had no problem punching their tickets to the 100-meter finals despite running into a headwind. Octavious Freeman ran away with the fastest qualifying time of 11.30 (-1.2), and Aurieyall Scott clocked the fastest time of her heat (11.44; -0.5) to also auto-qualify. Faulknor finished behind Freeman in the final heat for the overall fifth-fastest time at 11.65 (-1.2).
The trio along with Charles later flexed their strength in the 200 meters by winning their respective heats to all automatically qualify for the finals. Scott set the tone in heat two with the top qualifying time, 23.30 (-0.5). Faulknor cruised in the final heat with the second-best overall time and new personal record, 23.55 (-0.6) while Freeman dominated heat three in 23.57 (-2.1). Charles’ personal best 23.82 (+0.1) edged UTEP’s Yolanda Suggs in a photo finish for the best time of heat four.
Juniors Ne’Ausha Logan and Erica Winston paced the pack in the 800 meters early and never looked back to automatically qualify for the finals with the top-two quickest times of the day. Logan remains the favorite thanks to her time of 2:07.74 and Winston recorded a new personal-best 2:09.42.
Sophomore Sandy Jean will enter the 400-hurdle finals as the favorite after she automatically qualified with the top qualifying time, 59.03.
Senior Erica Weiss kept her streak of scoring at every conference meet of her career intact by contributing a point in the pole vault, clearing 3.72m/12-02.50 for eighth place.
The triple jump will kick off the final day of competition Sunday at 6 p.m. ET. Both @UCF_Track and @ConferenceUSA1 will provide updates on Twitter, and the official hashtags of the championships are #CUSAChamp and #CUSATF.