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Firebirds Brave Elements to Perform Well at Maryland Invitational

Junior Brittany Okon had a personal best 5.43M Long Jump performance.
Junior Brittany Okon had a personal best 5.43M Long Jump performance.

COLLEGE PARK, MD - Despite competing in rain and cold temperatures, the Firebirds had very good results at the Maryland Invitational at Kehoe Field on Saturday afternoon.

Right from the start, the team dealt with challenging weather not suitable for an outdoor track meet as UDC sent out three jumpers in the field of 18 competitors. All three jumpers opened the season with good finishes including sophomore Simone Grant (Health Education – Bronx, NY/Pelham Prep Academy) finishing 5th with a leap of 5.13M, sophomore Brittany Okon (Health Education – Bronx, NY/Pelham Prep Academy) finishing 4th with a leap of 5.16M, and senior Kaydian Jones (Journalism – Kingston, Jamaica/St. Andrew HS) placing 3rd with a 5.18M.

The slick surface did not hinder the Firebirds' performance on the track either, as Okon would leave the Long Jump pit and head straight to the track to help the 4x100M Team finish 2nd, and also run 12.74 to finish 2nd in Heat 2 and 3rd overall among 16 competitors in the 100M. Senior Jasmine Smith (Architecture – Baltimore, MD/Polytechnic HS) was 3rd in the same heat of the 100M and 5th overall, running 12.98 seconds.

The Firebirds also had a strong showing in the 400M with sophomore Marlena Wright (Journalism – Bronx, NY/Dewitt Clinton HS) finishing 4th in Heat 3 and 10th overall among 23 competitors. Her teammate, junior Jerily Benjamin (Health Education – Queens, NY/Phillip Randolph HS) ran a courageous race out in lane 8 in the seeded heat and finished 2nd overall, running 57.88 to finish as the runner-up among the 23 quarter-milers on the day.

Action in the Field also saw senior Shauna-Kay Creary (Accounting – Kingston, Jamaica/St. Andrew HS) open her outdoor campaign in the Triple Jump, an event she garnered All-American status in last spring. Creary earned a 2nd place finish and an NCAA Provisional Qualifying Mark of 11.82M. This mark places her 18th best in the country in Division II.

Action then switched back to the track where the Firebirds had a strong showing in the 200M. Grant finished 4th best among 21 competitors with a time of 25.83, and Jones was just edged out for the win in the 200M, running a time of 25.19 - good enough for 32nd in Division II.

All the action ended for the Firebirds with the 4x400M team of freshman Charmaine Sweeney, Jerily Benjamin, Marlena Wright and and junior Kimoy Mais finishing 3rd among six teams with a time of 4:01.05.

The Firebirds ended the day 4th in the team standings among 10 schools competing at the meet.

Head coach Alton McKenzie said he was very pleased with the way his team performed today despite the dismal weather.

"The message that resonated among the team was everyone else was out there dealing with the same challenges we had, so the only thing we could do is adjust and do our best," McKenzie said. "We showed that we could do just that today, and this will help when we face further obstacles and challenges during this Outdoor Season. April will be busy but we'll be ready."

The Firebirds head to the Colonial Relays at William & Mary University April 4th-5th to compete at their first major meet of the year with a significant number of schools slated to attend.