VCU track and field opened its outdoor season on Friday, March 17 with seven Rams placing in their events on day one of the VCU Ram Invitational.
Three Rams won events and two placed on day one, as seniors Calvin Wood and Racheed Davis built upon recent indoor success. Junior Nichelle Scott continued her distance success as she won the 1,500-meter run.
The second day was highlighted by relay and field success, as Rams came away with wins in the 4×100 and 4×400-meter runs while also securing a victory in the 3,000-meter run. Day two also saw sophomore javelin thrower Drew Hess come within two meters of the VCU school record and a dominant performance by Bryce Catlett in the 3,000-meter run.
Wood placed first in the 1,500-meter run with a time 4.04.08. It is his best time since running 4:00.25 in the event last year at the Fred Hardy Invitational. Sophomore Austin Conway placed second behind Wood with a time of 4:08.92.
Scott placed first in the 1,500-meter run with a scintillating performance, never relinquishing her lead. She posted a time of 4:48.17. Freshman Ashley Brown finished second in the event with a time of 4:51.94.
Sophomore Drew Hess came within two meters of the VCU javelin record with a throw 59.78 meters to win the event. Junior Shawn Scornaienchi placed second in the javelin with a throw of 53.53 meters.
Sophomore Camora Sanders won with a mark of 42.07 meters in the discus. Freshman Makayla McGowan placed third in the event with a throw of 39.46 meters.
Junior Latasha Williams and Sanders placed second and third, respectively, in the hammer throw. Williams threw to a mark of 43.86 meters, while Sanders threw to a mark of 41.39. It was each woman’s first time competing in the hammer throw for VCU.
Senior Christina Solomon and junior Amiaya Carey were the top two competitors in the high jump, with both athletes leaping to a mark of 1.63 meters. It was the first time Carey has jumped to such a height since her freshman year.
Senior Racheed Davis placed atop the podium in his first triple jump of the outdoor season, leaping to a mark of 14.09 meters. Freshman Marian Osafo achieved a personal record of 11.11 meters in the triple jump.
Junior Taylor McCormick continued to perform well in the triple jump, finishing first in the event with a leap of 11.78 meters. McCormick won the A-10 Indoor Championship in the triple jump.
A trio of Rams achieved a first-second-third finish in the 400-meter run. James, Watkins, and Morris finished with times of 57.22, 57.56, and 57.95 seconds, respectively. Junior Kahlil Shepard finished second with a time 49.32 seconds. Freshman Chukwuezugo Aguolu placed third in his first outdoor competition as a Ram with a time of 49.81 seconds.
Freshman Bryce Catlett dominated the field in the 3,000-meter run, coming in first with a time of 9:02.77. Junior Bismillah Alidost and sophomore Michael Villagomez rounded out the top three with times of 9:09.03 and 9:20.70, respectively. Senior Emily Dyke won the 3,000-meter run for the women by more than a 15 second margin, coming across the line in 10:23.42.
Junior Nicholas Buckingham set a new personal record after placing third in the 100-meter dash with a time of 11.19 seconds.
Four Rams finished in a row to round out the top five in the 200-meter dash. Freshman Dajae Goulet finished second with a time of 25.64 with sophomore Latrice Morris posted a time of 25.94 to place third. Sophomore Candice James finished fourth and freshman Alexis Willis finished fifth with times of 25.99 and 26.00.
Sophomore Jamik Alexander finished first and junior Kareem Payne finished second in the 200-meter dash. Alexander ran a time of 22.25 while Payne posted a time of 22.52. Shepard and Junior Devon Thompson rounded out the top five in the 200-meter dash — Shepard hit a time of 22.94 and Thompson followed with a time of 22.95 in his first outdoor event as a Ram.
Freshman Khoi Banks finished second in the 100-meter hurdles with a time of 15.13 seconds.
Sophomore Zayd Abdul-Ali finished first and freshman Ian Davis finished second in the 400-meter hurdles with times of 57.06 and 1:00.08.
VCU won the 4×100-meter relay on the backs of Banks, Willis, senior De’Nisha Smith, and Morris. The team ran a combined 47.04 seconds in the event.
VCU’s 4×400-meter relay team ended the meet on a high note, cruising to victory with a total time of 3:56.52. James and sophomores Taylor Watkins, Erika Coleman and Ann Sheehy made up the team.
Track and field head coach Jon Riley said the coaching staff was encouraged by their team’s effort.
“The coaches were happy with how everything went. We were able to see what we need to work on for the next couple of weeks,” Riley said. “We have a good group and we need to continue to grind.”
A handful of VCU Track and Field alumni returned to the track to partake in a friendly 4×100-meter relay. The ‘A’ team consisted of Ryan Coles ’15, Anthony Green ’15, Laura Siewert ’01, and Rhyann Johnson ’08. The ‘B’ team was made up of Joseph Edwards ’11, Courtney Jackson ’06, Allan Moody ’11, and Kiara Porter ’15. The ‘C’ team included Niema Eaves ’15, Juan Little ’15, Justin Snyder ’11 and Jeff Hernandez ’10.
Team C built an early lead, but a late surge by Porter of Team B gave her group the victory. Team B had a combined time of 48.79 seconds.
VCU will send half its athletes to the Fred Hardy Invitational here in Richmond next weekend, and the other half to the Roadrunners Invitational in San Antonio, Texas. Both meets will be held on Friday, March 24 and Saturday, March 25.
Jessica Wetzler, Contributing Writer