Track and field continues winning ways at Mountain T’s Invitational

Kevin Dinh/HIGHLANDER
Kevin Dinh/HIGHLANDER

Sophomore Ted Hooper had one of the best individual performances in his UCR career with a win in the men’s long jump, breaking a 12 year school record, as the UC Riverside track and field squads found success in an array of events at the Mountain T’s Invitational at Flagstaff, Arizona over the weekend.

Hooper claimed the indoor school record in men’s long jump with a leap of 7.11m (23′ 4.00″), topping Nate Irvin’s mark set over a decade ago. Ryan Swafford also etched his name into the history books as he engineered a runner-up finish in the men’s triple jump with a distance of 15.76m (51′ 8.50″).

The former All-American Swafford broke his own program record set last week at the UW Invitational, improving his jump by nearly a foot. His leap is currently tied for seventh best in the nation. Sprinter Briana Kennedy Feldhaus eclipsed the women’s 60 meter record as her time of 8.66 erased the previous benchmark by .13 seconds.

“We expect to see our team step up and compete at whatever competition environment we are in,” said Associate Head Coach Nate Browne. “Some meets are a very high level and we like to see our athletes believe they belong—because they do.”

Continuing the trend of top finishes, freshman Breana Jemison won the open section of women’s shot put with a toss of 13.21m (43′ 4.25″) while compatriot Jazmine Lewis seized fourth place throwing for a distance of 11.71m  (38′ 5.00″). Déjà Watkins set a new lifetime best in the women’s weight throw latching on to third place with a clearance of 17.13m (56′ 2.50″).

Amber Wright led seven Highlanders in the women’s 200m sprint earning a seventh place finish with a time of 25.41. Other respectable performance on the women’s side came from Lewis, who lowered her lifetime best in the 60m hurdles (9.19). Next was the women’s 4x400m relay team, who came in third (3:51) trailing the leader by just 2.45 seconds. Finally, the women’s 60m trio of Wright, Noelle Abboud and Nechelle Reyes, all of whom nabbed a new indoor lifetime best.

On the men’s side, Travis Smith claimed the number one spot in the men’s shot put with a hurl of 18.23m (59′ 9.75″), marking his second consecutive win of the season. Carl Nahigan notched a fourth place finish in the men’s weight throw with a measurement of 15.64m (51′ 3.75″), edging out teammates Chima Ikeme (14.57m) and Uchenna Oniah (14.08m).

In the 400 meters for the UCR men, Michael Koger gutted out a fourth place finish with a commendable time of 48.93. The team of Michael Pare, Dylan Gates, BJ Smith and Koger motored to a second place finish with a time of 3:19.11, falling four tenths of a second short of the top prize.

When asked about what will be the key to his team’s success this season, Browne honed in on the importance of personal disposition. “The x factor has been and will continue to be what decisions the athletes make when they are away from the track. Anyone can work out hard at practice and compete hard at meets.  But if the rest of their life and decision making isn’t in alignment with what they want to get accomplished they will fall short on their personal goals and our team goals.”

The track and field team hopes to showcase its championship pedigree as they hit the road at the Husky Classic Feb. 9 in Seattle, Wash.

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