Track and field opened with success during the first day of the Ram Invite, winning 4 of the 12 events. The Rams dominated the 200 meter and claimed the top four spots in the event.
Junior Taylor Watkins was the first to cross the line in the women’s 200 meter. Watkins completed the half-lap in 24.85, a personal best for the junior. Three other VCU sprinters trailed Watkins by less than a second. Sophomore Kayla Smith was the second place finisher with a time of 24.90. Sophomore Alexis Willis and junior Candice James placed third and fourth, respectively. James’ 25.08 was also a personal best.
VCU also took control in the women’s 1500 meter run with senior Courtney Holleran claiming first place. Holleran’s time was 4:56.59. Not far behind was fellow senior Ashley Brown, coming in at 4:57.83.
Senior Taylor McCormick leapt to another first place finish in the women’s triple jump with a mark of 12.15m.
On the men’s side, senior Shawn Scornaienchi earned a win in the shot put with a 14.41m mark. Freshman Jacob Greenless placed second in his first collegiate hammer throw. The freshman set a mark of 49.02m.
Also earning a second place finish was sophomore Bryce Catlett in the men’s 1500-meter run. Catlett, who crossed the line just 0.81 seconds behind the first place finisher, recorded a new personal best in the event with a 4:02.66 finish.
Continuing to dominate during the second day of the Ram Invite, VCU seniors stepped up during their day of recognition, with six seniors on the men’s side earning first place finishes. The women won seven more events while setting a new meet record for the women’s 4×400 meter relay.
In a two-team 4×400 meter relay race between VCU and Virginia State, the Rams pulled out a win. The team completed the relay in 3:15.64, two seconds quicker than their competition. Three seniors, Devon Thompson, Bigal Harrison, and Kahlil Shepard, as well as sophomore Chukwuezugo Aguolu made up the team.
Senior Shawn Scornaienchi won the javelin by a nine-meter margin. His final mark was 54.85m. It was Scornaienchi’s second event win of the meet.
In the men’s long jump, senior Marcus Finnie claimed first place out of 14 by leaping 6.73m.
Another champion was sophomore Ian Davis in the 110 meter hurdles. Davis outraced everybody to a 15.36 time and a first place finish.
Freshman Xyan Xrichardson placed second in the high jump by clearing the 1.95m mark.
Freshman Willie Schwartz set a new personal best in the discus with a 42.03m mark. He placed fourth overall.
On the women’s side, sophomore Kayla Smith, junior Ann Sheehy, sophomore Kara Lyles and junior Taylor Watkins were the winning combination of runners the Rams used to secure a first place finish in the 4×400 meter relay and to break the meet record that had stood since 2013. The squad’s time was 3:46.94, 1.3 seconds faster than the previous record set by George Mason University.
In the 400 meter, junior Candice James set a personal best with a 56.33 time. James was being chased by Sheehy, who came in at 57.18.
Sophomore Delaney Savedge earned a win in the 3000 meter run. Savedge, who led the entire race, recorded a time of 10:45.02.
Senior Olivia Coopwood won the 100m hurdles, earning a time of 15.16 seconds. Senior De’Nisha Smith also grabbed a first place finish in the long jump with a 5.62m mark. Finally, senior Amiaya Carey recorded a first place finish in the high jump with a 1.65m mark, which ties a personal best for the senior.
“It’s great to have a home meet,” assistant coach Tom Sage said. “Obviously, we were hoping for better weather, but we liked the effort we saw out of all our kids. We came away with a few titles in events and we’re looking forward to heading down to South Florida next week.”
Next up, the Black and Gold travel to the University of South Florida for the second of their three out-of-state meets this season. The Bulls Invitational will begin Thursday, March 22.
Jessica Wetzler, Staff Writer