The University of the District of Columbia women’s outdoor track and field squad braved the elements and opened its 2012 outdoor track campaign with strong performances during a rain-filled afternoon at the Tribe Invitational hosted by Williams & Mary University on March 24.

Due to the inclement weather, the 200 meter and 4×400 meter relay events were cancelled, but the Firebirds made the most of the events they did compete in.

Junior Callister Jones, a Fort Washington, Md. native out of Oxon Hill High School, was particularly impressive in her 400 meter race, besting her previous personal record by nearly two seconds to finish in 56.33. She is just outside of the NCAA Provisional Qualifying mark of 56.30, and her time is currently the 10th fastest mark in Division II this spring.

“To run a personal best by close to two seconds in our first outdoor meet of the season – and in driving rain, no less, says she’s not only in great shape, but proves she’s ready to make a mark individually on a national level,” head coach Alton McKenzie said.

Sophomore Areial Clark was also very impressive in the field events of javelin and shot put. Her personal best javelin throw of 32.82M was good for second-place overall in a field of eight. Also, her shot put toss of 11.51M placed her 4th in a field of eight.

Also of note, sophomore Shauna-Kay Creary made it out to 5.18M in her first-ever outdoor long jump event to place 6th in a field of 10 competitors.

After the meet, Coach McKenzie had this to say about his team’s performance:
“As is the case with running outdoors, sometimes conditions are not ideal, but we braved the elements and opened up our outdoor season with competitive performances,” McKenzie said. “We’ve been training hard the past few weeks, so despite the conditions, our expectations were to start the outdoor season on a positive note rain or shine. I believe that mindset will carry over into the rest of the season. I look forward to progressing throughout the outdoor season and using this meet as a stepping stone for better things to come.”

Eric Zedalis

Special to the AFRO