“I am really proud of how the team responded to challenges today,” head coach Caryl Smith Gilbert said. “We had several school records and personal bests which shows that they understand the importance of this meet and are giving everything they have.”
Sophomore Sonnisha Williams earned 10 points as the conference champion in the long jump with a program record 21-4.00/6.50m in the finals. Williams tied her own school record earlier in the afternoon with a jump of 20-11.75/ 6.39m in the second flight. Her record-setting jump to take the league crown is the fourth best in the nation this year and the second best wind-legal mark of 2011.
Senior Lynne Layne earned three points with a sixth-place finish after jumping 19-9.50/6.03m, while Tomika Story’s 19-2.75/5.86m tied her personal best and earned one point in eighth place.
Jackie Coward and Karessa Farley qualified first and second in the 100-meter hurdles, respectively. Coward ran a 13.02 to win her heat and set a new meet record, breaking the 11-year old mark of 13.10. Farley also won her preliminary heat in 13.47. Ashley Bolling and Mica Wimberly will join Farley and Coward in Sunday’s final after advancing with times of 13.83 and 13.90, respectively.
Coward wasted little time in qualifying first in another event, running a 58.41 to win her heat in the 400-meter hurdles. Sandy Jean also won her heat in a personal-best time of 1:00.73, while Aisha-Maree Frazier ran a 1:00:68 to give UCF three spots in Sunday’s final.
Afia Charles was a large contributor to the Knights’ successful first day in Houston as she set a new school and freshman record in the 400 meters. Charles broke the nine-year old mark of 53.90 by three-tens of a second to advance in sixth in 53.60. Champelle Brown qualified eighth for Sunday’s final in 54.60.
UCF’s most dominating performance of the day came in the final event in which the Knights ran; the 200 meters. Aurieyall Scott (1st, 23.01), Sheila Paul (2nd, 23.40), Dominique Booker (4th, 23.46) and Lynne Layne (5th, 23.67) all won their heats to give the Black and Gold four runners in Sunday’s final. Paul and Booker ran personal bests in the event on Saturday afternoon.
Like Coward, Scott qualified first in two events as she set a UCF program and freshman record in the 100 meters. Scott won her heat in a school-record 11.29 to qualify first for Sunday’s final heat. Fellow freshman Booker set a new personal record as she ran an 11.55 to qualify fifth. Paul (6th, 11.55) and Layne (7th, 11.56) round out the Knights in the finals.
In their first C-USA Championship, freshmen throwers Satrina Oliveira and Destinee Romain began by competing in the shot put on Saturday afternoon. Oliveira placed 13th in the event with a throw of 40-8.25/12.40m, while Romain was 15th with a mark of 40-5.00/12.32m.
After claiming the crown in the long jump, Williams had to make a quick adjustment as she was also slated to compete in the high jump. With just a short time in between events, she tied for 10th, clearing 5-3.00/1.60m. Williams also ran in the 200 meters, posting a time of 24.17.
The Knights will now turn their attention to Sunday’s final events. UCF will have 26 opportunities to score points and move up the conference leader board in search of their second-straight conference championship.
“We have a lot of scoring opportunities tomorrow, but we need to continue to run with that sense of urgency to compete and we will be okay,” Smith Gilbert said. “It is important that we continue to push ourselves all the way through the final event and maintain a championship mentality until the very end.”
Sunday’s events start at 6 p.m. ET with the discus, while the final event, the 4×400-meter relay, slated to begin at 10 p.m. ET.