UAPB Track And Field notes Great Outdoor Season Opener at Richard Martin Jr. Invitational

Joanna Rodgers

CONWAY, AR — With high expectations to open their outdoor season, the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff men’s and women’s track and field teams executed their first outdoor meet well over the weekend at the Richard Martin Jr. Invitational.

After some successful finishes from the indoor season, the Golden Lions were looking to finish where they left off, and UAPB head coach Christopher McCoy would hold his team to the challenge.

Bright early in the morning, the Golden Lions knew there was business to be taken care of. In the day’s first event, sensation Safiya John decided to make her morning fun as she competed in the women’s javelin throw. Warming herself up, she threw 34.92 meters in the prelims to easily gain the lead, but it wasn’t until her fifth throw that she broke the 40-meter barrier to throw 41.45 meters (136’0″) for a first-place finish.

Over to the discus throw, Joelle Stewart got her morning started with a nice season-opener of 41.36 meters (136’8″) to finish third.

But that wasn’t the end of the throws for the Golden Lions that day. As the sun got higher, so did the competition. However, Deonmonique Granville did not back from the competition not one bit. It would be her first throw to cause the spectators to erupt in applause after throwing a massive 14.15 meters (46’5.25″) to secure a victory and a new personal best easily.

With business taken care of in the field, the hunt was not over on the track for the Golden Lions. In the first race of the day, Joanna Rodgers made an immediate statement in the women’s 800-meter run as she got out fast as soon as the gun went off. She ran a great 400m split of 1:05.29 to stay in a great position in front of her opponents. Rodgers kept a great pace to stay ahead of the pack before giving an all-out sprint in the final 120 meters of the race to finish first with a time of 2:18.37 seconds.

John’s favorite time of the day came about when the hurdles were moved onto the track for the women’s 100-meter hurdles. In a section full of Central Arkansas opponents, John knew that it was time to put on and represent the UAPB across her chest the best way she could. Firing out the blocks and attacking the first hurdle, John instantly gained a quick lead and wouldn’t have any mercy as she became more aggressive as she attacked every hurdle before crossing the finish line with a winning time of 13.95 seconds.

Immediately after crossing the line, John went straight to check-in for the 100-meter dash with a smile on her face as she thought about competing with her teammate, Brianna Guy. Next to each other in the blocks, the two would take off as soon as the gun fired and stayed side-by-side the duration of the race, with Guy winning the heat and John finishing right on her hip. Guy would finish third overall and John fifth.

In the 400-meter hurdles, Leandra Elam was in full attack mode to assure that her outdoor season opener started with a great time under her belt. Getting out quickly, Elam’s thirteen-step get her over the first hurdle well to establish a great place moving forward. As she got to the 150-meter mark of the track, it was all about the fight she gave to finish with a great time. Crossing the finish line with lactic acid built in her legs, her second-place finish with a time of 1:04.50 made the pain worth it all.

To cap their day off in the 4×400 meter relay, the Golden Lions had a powerful lineup ready to go. Rodgers took the honors of running a great first leg before handing off the baton to Raina Perry, who would compete with UCA for 400 meters. John would run a strong, determined third leg with Elam anchoring things off for the Golden Lions to finish second with a time of 3:55.12.

On the men’s side, in cold weather conditions, Daniel Bailey would kick things off for the men’s with a third-place finish with a throw of 42.60 meters (139’9″) in the men’s hammer throw.

With a good start in the meet, the Golden Lions decided to take things up a notch in the discus throw with a one-two sweep. Staying in a good position in the ring, Deandre Fyffe made a fair throw in the second round with 48.47 meters (159’0″) to sit in first place. Fouling three of his six throws, Bailey launched a final fair throw to move up to second place in the event with a throw of 47.18 meters (154’9″) to earn a second-place finish behind Fyffe.

Over to the running events, Stephen Lane brought not only his skills to the track but also his swagger. Lane would prepare his mind to make a solid 110-meter hurdle outdoor season-opening statement in his shades. Firing out of the blocks and attacking the first hurdle, things were neck and neck across the track for Lane and his competitors, but Lane stayed in his lane and focused on crossing the finish line as he secured a second-place finish with a time of 14.41 seconds.

Extending the hurdles to 400 meters, Zachariah McGowan would step up and accept the challenge. Going toe-to-toe with the UCA competitor the entire race, McGowan finished in second place, missing first place by .18 seconds with a time of 57.64 seconds.

To close the day off on a good note for Arkansas-Pine Bluff, the Golden Lions 4×400 meter A and B teams would finish in second and third place with a time of 3:23.42 and 3:24.38 to end a weekend of competition with some great takeaways.

“We did many great things on the track this weekend, but we are even more ready to head to Texas for our next meets,” said McCoy about keeping the momentum going on the track for the Golden Lions.

Arkansas-Pine Bluff track and field will travel to Austin, Texas, and San Marcos, Texas for the Texas Relays and Bobcat Invitational, with competition beginning on Thursday.