VCU split the team this week and sent some Rams to the University of Texas at San Antonio Roadrunners Invitational and the rest headed west to the Fred Hardy Invitational at the University of Richmond Friday and Saturday.
The Rams opened up the Roadrunners Invitational by placing third in team scoring out of seven teams after day one. Sophomore Sakia Konin shined in her first heptathlon performance since last outdoor season while sophomore Camora Sanders displayed strength in the shot put.
Konin finished second in her event after scoring 4,223 points for the Rams. This is the most points Konin has ever scored in the heptathlon, crushing her former personal best by 569 points. Konin didn’t stop displaying her talent as she also set personal records in the 100-meter hurdles, high jump, shot put and javelin.
“We put in two solid days of work at the track. Sophomore Sakia Konin came ready to compete, as she set four PRs in an awesome effort in the heptathlon,” said Coach Thomas Sage. “When consistency and improvement come together amazing things can happen. I’m excited to see what the rest of the group will do in the remaining days here at UTSA.”
Sanders placed sixth in shot put after hitting 14.01 meters, making a new outdoor personal record. Sanders’ previous outdoor best was 13.35 meters, a mark she hit at last year’s Atlantic 10 Outdoor Track and Field Championships.
Freshman Makayla McGowan competed in her first outdoor shot put performance as a Ram and threw 13.36 meters.
“I was really excited by all of our throwers performances today. Not all of them had PR performances in the meet but all showed higher levels of execution during the day,” said coach Ethan Tussing. “Camora’s PR in the shot put is just the tip of the iceberg. She is doing great things consistently now and I’m excited for every time she will get to compete this season.”
Sophomore Drew Hess shined in San Antonio for the Rams, breaking the VCU school record and finishing third in the javelin with a mark of 62.08 meters. The previous record was 61.80 meters and was set by Brett Frykberg in 2005.
“Drew breaking the school record in the javelin today was a long time in the making,” assistant Coach Tussing said. “Now that we have gotten that crucial first step out of the way a little of the pressure is gone and now we can push forward for higher accolades.”
Junior Shawn Scornaienchi placed fifth in the javelin, throwing a mark of 53.74 meters. This is Scornaienchi’s best throw so far this season.
The Rams continued to break records as they entered day two of the Invitational. Senior De’Nisha Smith crushed her previous personal record in the 100-meter hurdles, crossing the line at 14.30 seconds and placing seventh out of 19 runners. Smith also competed in the 400-meter hurdles, placing eighth with a time of 1:02.99.
Junior Nichelle Scott continued her success in the 800-meter run, placing second out of 20 runners with a time of 2:11.87. Sophomore Candice James secured a top 10 finish in the 400-meter run with a time of 57.49 seconds.
Freshman Alexis Willis placed ninth in her first 100-meter dash as a Ram, completing the race in 12.15 seconds.
The VCU men secured solid finishes individually and in the relay event while also showing strength in the 400-meter events. Junior Bigal Harrison and junior Devon Thompson placed in the top 10 out of 23 runners in the 400-meter run. Harrison finished with a time of 48.40 seconds while Thompson posted a time of 48.45 seconds.
Junior Nicholas Buckingham finished the 400-meter run in 48.66 seconds while junior Kahlil Shepard finished the run in 48.84 seconds. The time is a new personal record for Buckingham.
The men’s 4×400-meter relay team finished third out of 13 squads with a time of 3:12.21. Harrison, Buckingham, Shepard, and Thompson made up the lineup for VCU.
Sophomore Jamik Alexander placed fourth in the 100-meter dash with a time of 10.67 seconds. Placing in seventh behind Alexander was junior Kareem Payne who finished with a time of 10.73 seconds. Both Alexander and Payne achieved personal records in the event.
Freshman Ian Davis broke his personal record in the 110-meter hurdles by nearly half a second. He placed eighth out of 14 with a time of 14.82 seconds
Fred Hardy Invitational
Back in Richmond, a couple of new personal records were set by freshman Bryce Catlett and sophomore Michael Villagomez. Catlett finished seventh in his first time competing in the 5,000-meter run this year, hitting a new personal record time of 15:26. Villagomez achieved his personal record in the 5,000 meter also, running the event in 16:17.04. After day one, the men placed fifth out of seven teams.
Sophomore John Lim placed fourth in the triple jump, leaping to a season best mark of 13.43 meters. Freshman Marian Osafo leaped to hit a mark of 11 meters for the women’s side in the triple jump.
Freshman Judith White placed second in the 3,000-meter steeplechase, setting a personal record time of 11:36.45.
Graduate Grace Giampietro vaulted to a season best height of 3.05 meters in her second outdoor event as a Ram.
Sophomore Taunysha Bailey beat her previous personal best in the 400-meter hurdles with a time of 1:10.35. Bailey’s former best time was 1:10.52.
“We had a nice meet today at Richmond with a number of distance runners achieving season and personal bests,” said graduate assistant Dan Johnson. “ It will be great to see how the rest of the team competes tomorrow.”
Freshman Janelle Cheatham placed second and nearly surpassed her personal record in the long jump, leaping to a mark of 5.34 meters.
Sophomore Daijona Revell ran a season-best 15.52 in the preliminaries of the 100-meter hurdles. Revell placed sixth overall in the finals with a time of 15.70 seconds.
Sophomore Roger Botock earned a personal record in the 100-meter dash preliminaries with a time of 11:58 seconds.
Freshman Dajae Goulet achieved an outstanding personal record in the 200-meter dash, completing the race in just 25.12 seconds to place fourth out of 68 runners. Sophomore Lozie Goolsby finished sixth out of 23 runners, posting a personal best time of 22:59 seconds in the 200-meter dash. Freshman Chukwuezugo Aguolo followed by placing eighth in the 200-meter dash with a time of 23.03 seconds.
VCU heads to Williamsburg Thursday through Saturday to compete in the Colonial Relays hosted by the College of William and Mary.
Jessica Wetzler, Contributing Writer