LITTLE ROCK – On a historic day for the UALR track and field teams, the Trojans had one new school record and six event victories at the UALR Open – the first-ever track meet at UALR’s Coleman Sports & Recreation Complex – on Saturday afternoon.
Casey Lane had an incredible day, winning his heat in the 400-meter hurdles in 53.06 seconds, setting a school and personal record. His previous personal best was 53.61 seconds, set last May. Lane moved from second to first all-time at UALR and now holds the school record by two hundredths of a second.
Rebekah Grissom was the Trojans’ star in the field, winning the javelin with a throw of 126’ 9 1/4” despite hurling the javelin into swirling winds. She followed that with a win in the discus, throwing the disc 135’ 5”. In her third event of the day, Grissom placed second in the shot put with a throw of 43’ 7”. She has now won three of the six outdoor events she has competed in this year and placed second in the other three.
Cheryl Nolan was strong in the 1500, placing second in the field with a time of 4:42.06. She was joined by teammate Rebekah Gibbons, whose 5:24.02 run was good for seventh place and fifth among Division I runners.
Nolan’s day wasn’t done, though, as she tied for first place in the 800 with a time of 2:21.95. Nolan was trailing in the final 100 meters, but she used an incredible kick and leaned across the finish line at the same time as Rhodes’ Kendall Reed. Brittney Brasuell was sixth in that race in 2:28.24.
The UALR women kicked off the meet in style, winning the 4x100 relay in a time of 48.19 seconds. That time was seventh-fastest in Trojan history. The men followed immediately after, barely missing the victory when they placed second in 41.68 seconds just behind Harding’s squad. That mark was the sixth-fastest in UALR history.
The Trojans’ other winner on the afternoon was Rickitha Hicks, who finished the 200-meter dash in first place with a time of 24.60 seconds. She was just .04 seconds ahead of the second-place runner, but that time put her fifth all-time at UALR in that event. Hicks was joined by teammates Jasmine Blunt (11th, 26.35 seconds), Baylee Daves (12th, 26.44), Shanavia Cole (14th, 27.10) and Natallia Johnson (20th, 28.51) in the 200.
In the men’s 200, Alford Tribble was the top runner with a time of 22.10 for fourth place. Terance Goodwin was ninth in 22.25 as the only other Trojan in that event.
Alex Ebmeyer had a strong showing in the 400-meter dash, taking second place overall in a time of 49.18 seconds. That mark was just .03 seconds shy of his personal record. Winning his heat and placing sixth overall was Howard Aldridge, who finished in 50.68 seconds. On the women’s side, Shanavia Cole was fifth overall in the 400, clocking in at just over a minute in 1:00.91.
Bree Walker and Ashtin Boykin had a great showing in the 400 hurdles on the women’s side, taking second and third place, respectively. Walker’s time of 1:03.56 and Boykin’s 1:04.43 put them only behind UCA’s Jean Black in the race.
Three UALR distance runners had great days in the 5K as John Vodacek led the pack with a second-place finish in 15:22.10. George Gathuru was in second until the final stretch, but he still took third place in 15:23.14. And Markus Pearson rounded out the official UALR contingent in fourth place, crossing the line in 15:48.11. Senior Shaun Koehn, running unattached, finished in seventh place.
On the women’s side, the Trojans’ distance efforts began with Tori Copeland in the women’s 5K. The junior crossed the finish line in 21:12.02.
The women’s 100-meter dash had Johnson run in 12.49 seconds, placing seventh in her heat and seventh overall. For the men, Goodwin won his heat in 10.81 seconds while Cory Martin followed in sixth in the heat in 11.49 seconds. They placed fifth and 19th overall in the event, respectively.
To end the day, the Trojans took part in the 4x400 relays. The UALR women went first, crossing the finish line in 4:00.93 to place fourth and move to seventh all-time in UALR history. The men were fifth in the final race of the day, coming across the line in 3:28.76.
The UALR Open was scored as a tri-meet with UALR facing off against Central Arkansas and UAPB for points. The Trojan men were beaten by UCA 236-84 and by UAPB 134-100. The UALR women lost to UCA 159-126 and lost to UAPB 162-155.
The day began at 9 a.m. with a breakfast speeches from UALR Chancellor Dr. Joel Anderson, Director of Athletics Chris Peterson and Little Rock Mayor Mark Stodola.
The Trojans are back in action next weekend, splitting up into three groups. The team will participate in two meets in California – the Mt. San Antonio College Invitational and the Beach Invite – while others will take part in the Central Arkansas Open in Conway.