Lions track and field overcome injuries to rank in the top 25

Junior Devin King won the pole vaulting competition after only three attempts.
The Lion's Roar/Jonathan Rhodes

The Lions track and field team had multiple injuries going into the Southland Conference Championship, but they persevered to win third place in the men’s competitions and seventh place in the women’s competitions. The Lions now rank 23rd in the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association's NCAA Division I National Team Computer Rankings.

Head Coach Sean Brady was proud of the effort by the senior athletes, who graduated on Saturday, May 13, in their last conference meet.

“This was a real bittersweet meet for us,” said Brady. “In terms of just performance, the seniors who have played big for us all year really showed up. We are graduating some seniors that are very hard to replace, but they showed some life and some fire at this meet.”

After a bit of a rain delay on Friday, the Lions started gaining some gold medals on Saturday in the Tad Gormley Stadium. Freshman Ashley Davis won the shot put on her last attempt with a throw of 51-03.

Graduate student Gennard Paul broke the school record and his personal record in his first attempt in the javelin throw with 255 feet, 4 inches. That was the second longest throw in the country this season.

“It was quite surprising,” said Paul. “It was quite the tough journey because I started off injured I had to have a Tommy John surgery. The coaches worked with me and encouraged me to keep working hard and it paid off in the end and became a special moment for me.”

Senior Alex Young won first place in the shot put and the hammer throw. It was his second time winning the shot put since 2015.

Young also broke the Southland Conference Championship record with 228 feet, 4 inches winning his sixth hammer throw title in his Lion career. Young also broke his teammate Jonathan Kinchen’s record from 2015.

“I’ve done this before,” said Young. “It was not a situation that I haven’t seen before, so my experience really gave me some self-confidence. After I broke it the first time, I thought about Jon. That was my boy, so it was kind of funny. I chuckled a little bit. Coming in, the mark I had already had it beat by several meters. I wasn’t looking for a PR, but on a day like this after a hard week of finals, you can’t complain.”

This was Young’s final conference championship meet. He had missed the 2016 outdoor championship during his redshirt season.

“It’s good to come back off my redshirt season and build off my junior year,” said Young. “It’s just nice to be back and have the experience of conference one last time.”

Junior pole vaulter Devin King pulled a groin muscle two weeks ago and stayed out of meets to prepare for the conference championship. King only made three jumps but on the last attempt he cleared the bar 17 feet, 9.5 inches to win his fourth straight title.

“Before I got on the runway, I told myself three years from now when I am done with college I wanna look back and say that I won enough conference championships,” said King. “I didn’t want to lose so I pushed through and came out on top. It still hurts so it’s not like I fixed anything, I just pushed through it. I’ll have to take time over the next few weeks to ice it down.”

Senior Andre Colebrook took first place in the 400-meter hurdle and set a new school record in 50.60 seconds.

“I just like to thank God,” said Colebrook. “It’s been a lot of training for the 400-meter hurdle and I just wanted to go there and represent my school. This is my last conference meet so I had to put down a showdown for my team. I had to go out as an Lion, not a cub.”

The Lady Lions Aareion Jackson, Daijah Washington, Kaelynn Smith and Jaslyn Bowman finished second in the 4×100 relay with their season best of 45.63 seconds. Senior hammer thrower Natalia Redondo finished in second place after going into the finals in fourth place but moved up on her last attempt.

“I feel good,” said Redondo. “On the last one, I broke my mark by two meters so I feel happy.”

Athletes with the qualifying marks will compete in the National Collegiate Athletic Association East Preliminary Championship from May 25 to 27 in Lexington, Kentucky.

Senior Alex Young won first place in the shot put and hammer throw.
The Lion's Roar/Jonathan Rhodes

Andre Colebrook with associate coach Corey Mistretta after winning first place in the 400-meter hurdle.
The Lion's Roar/Jonathan Rhodes