Miami leaves Clemson with 2 first-place finishes and an impressive young team

After a 10-month break, the Canes are back on the track.

Last March, the team was in Albuquerque, New Mexico preparing for the NCAA Indoor Track and Field Championships when the coronavirus pandemic ended its season.

Despite the long break, the team is looking strong. In their second indoor meet of the year, the Canes brought home two first-place finishes and displayed a talented group of young runners.

The team traveled north to Clemson, South Carolina for the weekend to compete in the Clemson Bob Pollock Invitational, where Florida State, Georgia Tech and Auburn were among the teams competing.

On the women’s side, graduate student Alfreda Steele and sophomore Jacious Sears finished one-two in the 60-meter dash prelims. The pair bested their qualifying times in the final with Steele posting a time of 7.26 and Sears 7.30. They finished second and third overall, only behind Florida State’s Jayla Kirkland (7.25).

Heading the sprints, Sears finished first overall in the 200-meter dash with a time of 23.65. Senior Tiara McMinn joined her on the podium, finishing third overall in the 60-meter hurdles with a time of 8.20, and teammate Lauryn Harris was right behind her, finishing seventh overall with a time of 8.45.

The Canes introduced a catalog of new faces with 16 true freshmen listed on the roster.

Freshman Moriah Oliveira finished first in her 400-meter dash heat and second overall with a time of 55.41. She was followed by classmate Blanca Hervas, who also finished first in her heat and sixth overall with a time of 56.20. Moriah Oliveira and Hervas also competed in the 4×400 meter relay team, which finished second overall with a time of 3:40.49.

On the men’s side, five freshmen were entered in the 400-meter dash with two finishing inside the top 10. Solomon Strader finished sixth overall with a time of 47.66 and Ramy Berberena finished 10th with a time of 48.32. Oskars Bambals (49.51), Jalen Gordon (49.63) and Ryler Gould (49.67) also posted sub-50 times in the race. Using this depth, the men’s B team also finished fourth in the 4×400 meter relay with a time of 3:12.66.

Bambals added to his meet resume finishing first in his 800-meter race heat with a time of 1:51.02. He secured the No. 3 spot on Miami’s all-time list and finished second overall only behind Kameron Jones (1:46.52) who ran unattached. In the women’s 800-meter race, freshman Sierra Oliveira finished first in her heat and sixth overall running a time of 2:11.63, and senior Kayla Johnson finished fifth overall with a time of 2:09.56.

Heading the long-distance runs, sophomore Andrew Madden finished third overall in the 3000-meter race with a time of 8:44.09. On the women’s 1-mile run, Oliveira finished with a time of 5:11.19, and freshman Natalie Varela followed at 5:17.91.

The team got its second first-place finish of the meet from the field events. Sophomore Taylor Wright won the women’s high jump, clearing an impressive 1.78 meters. The Canes also saw four other top-five finishes with freshman Ashley Moore finishing fifth in the women’s triple jump with a 12.50-meter mark and junior Selina Dantzler finishing fourth in the women’s shot put with a 14.44-meter mark. Senior Debbie Ajagbe and junior Hannah Hall finished third and fourth in the weight throw, with Ajagbe throwing 18.89 meters and Hall throwing 18.42 meters.

For the men, veteran Kevin Arreaga led the way and finished third in the weight throw with a 19.84-meter mark. The Canes also recorded two top-five finishes in the triple jump with sophomores Justin Forde (15.60m) and Russell Robinson (15.55m) finishing fourth and fifth. Robinson also finished fourth in the long jump posting a 7.23-meter mark.

Miami heads home with a lot of potential for a successful indoor season. The team will return to Clemson for the Tiger Paw Invite on Feb. 12-13.