The Trojan track and field team arrived in South Carolina with high hopes over the weekend as they prepared to compete in the Tiger Paw Invitational hosted by Clemson.
The men’s team entered the meet ranked No. 15 in the nation, while the women’s held the No. 4 spot. Neither squad disappointed. They put up their most impressive showing of the season thus far, dominating in events across the board. The Trojans totaled seven wins over two days of competition, and most impressively of all, set a new world record.
The men’s 4×400 relay team — comprised of freshman Zach Shinnick, junior Rai Benjamin, senior Ricky Morgan Jr. and sophomore Michael Norman — won in spectacular fashion as they set a new IAAF world indoor record in their win with a remarkable time of 3:01.98. The race was the fastest ever recognized by the IAAF, breaking both collegiate and international records. The No. 2 Florida team also broke the previous record, making for a truly historic race.
The women’s 4×400 relay team didn’t fail to impress either, finishing 4.5 seconds ahead of the second place team in a dominant victory. The team of sophomores Kyra Constantine and Anna Cockrell and seniors Deanna Hill and Kendall Ellis ran a 3:02.23, the fifth-fastest time ever in the event. Hill also won first place in the women’s 200m dash with a facility record time of 22.82 while Ellis placed third with a time of 22.99. Ellis did manage to secure a victory, running a 51.57 to win the women’s 400m dash.
Freshman Twanisha Terry impressed in the women’s 60m dash, running a blazing 7.23, a new PR. Redshirt junior Ky Westbrook followed up in second place, running a season-best time of 7.25. In the men’s 60m, sophomore Alexander Barnum placed second on a strong performance that saw him post a PR of 6.61. Cockrell placed third in the women’s 60m, setting a PR with a time of 7.96. Sophomore Michael Norman won the men’s 400m dash with a time of 45.00 seconds, breaking the school record for the event.
Redshirt senior Breana Jemison threw for 16.88m in the women’s shot put for a second place finish. Senior Randall Cunningham secured an impressive victory in the high jump, not missing a single jump until the 2.26m, which he would clear on his second attempt to win the event. Redshirt senior Eric Sloan won the triple jump, setting a facility record in the process; his winning jump measured in at 16.23m.
The Trojans’ season has begun as well as they could have hoped for. They’ve impressed in every week of the season so far, steadily displaying improvement as the season kicks into gear, with the Tiger Paw Invitational as their best performance yet.
Junior heptathlete Lyndsey Lopes, who set a PR in the 60m hurdles at the meet, gushed about the great team atmosphere.
“To be surrounded by amazing athletes who uplift and push one another is a true blessing,” Lopes said.
They will need to sustain and build upon their success, as they begin the first week of the MPSF Indoor Championships on Feb. 23.