On the strength of 43 points from its hurdlers, UCF stormed into first place after 16 events and held off a charging UTEP squad at the end to win its first C-USA title with 114 points, just five ahead of the second-place Miners.
UCF entered Sunday in sixth place with 24.5 points and according to seeds were projected to finish the championship with 90 points. Instead, head coach Caryl Smith Gilbert’s team scored 89.5 points in 14 events Sunday, thrilling the home crowd and shocking UTEP and three-time defending champion Rice, who finished in a distant third with 87 points.
In a runaway, Houston took the title of the men’s championship, scoring 191 points to finish well ahead of second-place UTEP (126 points). It was the first time since joining the league that UCF had hosted the track championships.
Sophomore Jackie Coward (Knoxville, Tenn.) led a 1-2-3 UCF finish in the 100-meter hurdles, crossing the line in a wind-aided 12.99 seconds. Senior Tiki James (Miami, Fla.) and junior Micaela Wimberly (Miami, Fla.) took third as the Knights scored 25 points in the event. Starting at 6:45 p.m., the 100-meter hurdles vaulted the Knights into third place and was the last event to be conducted prior to the one and a y
After the delay, UCF got second-place and fourth-place finishes from junior Carley Dart (Whitby, Ontario) and sophomore Sheila Paul (Lauderdale Lakes, Fla.) respectively.
The stage was then set for the 400-meter hurdles, where Coward was the defending champion and heavy favorite to win her second individual championship of the day. A good news-bad news scenario followed for Coward. The bad news was that Coward upset and finished second. The good news was that it was her teammate Aisha-Maree Frazier (Marietta, Ga.) who pulled the upset, crossing .16 seconds (59.20) in front of Coward (59.36) for a 1-2 UCF finish.
The event, the 16th of the championships, vaulted UCF in front for the first time in the championships after 9 p.m. on Sunday night. The Knights would never relinquish the lead, extending it to 20 points (110-90) after 19 events thanks to a second-place finish and school record by LaKendra Thames (Winter Garden, Fla.) in the shot put (51-4.25/15.65m).
The Knights held off a charging UTEP squad over the final two events, finishing with a gutsy performance in the 4×400-meter relay. The stars of the day were at it again as Coward ran the second leg and Frazier finished it off as the anchor. The late-night celebration of the program’s first C-USA title immediately commenced under the lights of their home stadium.
2010 Conference USA Championships
- UCF, 114
- UTEP, 109
- Rice, 87
- Tulsa, 81.83
- SMU, 76.33
- Houston, 75
- UAB, 70
- East Carolina, 67
- Southern Miss, 63
- Tulane, 32
- Marshall, 27
- Memphis, 13.83
2. LaKendra Thames, 51-4.25/15.65m (SR, PR) (8 points earned)
5. Jessica Francis, 44-11/13.69m (PR) (4)
T5. Sonnisha Williams 5-4.50/1.64m (PR) (3.50)
4. Tomika Story, 40-9.0/12.42m (PR) (5)
11. Jacquelyn Gilchrist, 38-8.75/11.80m (PR)
4. UCF (James, Coward, Wimberly, Paul), 45.05 (SR)
1. Jackie Coward, 12.99 (+3.9) (PR) (10)
2. Tiki James, 13.19 (+3.9) (8)
3. Micaela Wimberly, 13.69 (+3.9) (6)
8. Ashley Bolling, 14.16 (+3.9) (PR) (1)
4. Sheila Paul, 11.53 (+1.1) (5)
2. Carley Dart, 2:09.11 (8)
1. Aisha-Maree Frazier, 59.20 (PR) (10)
2. Jackie Coward, 59.36 (8)
5. Sheila Paul, 24.29 (+0.6) (4)
18. Erica Weitz, 17:42.47
23. Jamie Rzepecki, 18:10.27
5. UCF, 3:43.17 (4)
SR – School Record
PR – Personal Record