Canes zoom past competition at Hurricane Alumni Invitational as Holmes and Atherley smash program records

UM senior Michelle Atherley won the women's heptathlon at the Hurricane Invitational on April 9-10 and broke the UM program record
UM senior Michelle Atherley won the women’s heptathlon at the Hurricane Alumni Invitational on April 9-10. Photo credit: Michael Mok

The UM men and women’s track and field teams refused to be embarrassed on their home turf this weekend, dominating virtually every event on April 9th and 10th in the Hurricane Alumni Invitational at Cobb Stadium.

Senior Michelle Atherley got the Canes off to a strong start on Friday, winning her first four events in the women’s heptathlon. First, she ran a time of 13.18 seconds in the 100m hurdles. Atherley then turned her attention to the field events, where she leaped 1.75m for the high jump and threw 12.99m for the shot put. She closed out the day by running a staggering 23.94 second 200m dash, a personal best.

On the men’s side, Isaiah Holmes broke a 24-year program record by clearing 2.21m in the high jump. He beat Tim James’ previous record of 2.17m, which was achieved in 1996. Holmes now leads the ACC in the high jump and is tied for fourth for the event in the NCAA.

The Canes continued their impressive performance on Saturday, again led by Atherley, who finished what she started by winning the women’s heptathlon, breaking her previous Miami program record in the process. She won the long jump with a distance of 6.09m, followed by a second place finish of 35.10m in the javelin throw. To close out her spectacular two-day showing, Atherley triumphed in the 800m, running a first place time of 2:12.84. She finished with 6100 total points in the women’s heptathlon, good for third best in the NCAA this season.

In the field events, the Canes led the way in the women’s discus, sweeping the top four spots.

Junior Debbie Ajagbe won the event, posting a throw of 53.85m. She was followed by Kristina Rakocevic (52.31), Selina Dantzler (49.63) and Hannah Hall (48.71). Women’s shot put also had a stellar outing, as Dantzler won with a throw of 15.60m, followed by Hannah Hall (14.80) in second place.

In the women’s triple jump, Ashley Moore finished second by clearing 12.62m. On the men’s side, Russell Robinson was victorious with a jump of 15.83m. He was followed by Kevin Snyder, whose 15.34m leap was good enough for second place.

Both the men and women’s teams had enormous success on the track as well, with Emma Langois winning the women’s 1500m (4:35.26), and Dillon Fields winning the men’s (4:20.45).

In the men’s 110m hurdles, Xavier Coakley took the event with a time of 13.81 seconds. Ryler Gould later finished third in the 400m hurdles with a time of 52.92 seconds.

The men’s 400m race featured a shattering of personal bests, with freshman Solomon Strader running a time of 46.58 seconds, which is the fifth-fastest time in UM program history. Mckinley Brown followed suit with a time of 47.24 seconds, a personal best.

In an extremely competitive men’s 800m, Oskars Bambals just barely missed first place with a time of 1:50.52 seconds. For the women, Sierra Oliveria had the best mark in the 800m, with a 2:09.14 second race that resulted in a fourth place finish.

Closing out the day were the men and women’s 200m sprints and 4x400m relay races. Asa Burke helped the Canes finish strong, winning the men’s 200m dash with a time of 21.19 seconds. He also won the 100m dash earlier in the day (10.55). In the relay races, the women’s team, consisting of Jacious Sears, Sierra and Moriah Oliveria and Blanca Hervas finished first with a time of 3:39.58 seconds. The men’s team of Oskars Bambals, Solomon Strader, Ryan Gould and Jalen Gordon squeezed in a second place finish with a time of 3:20.44.

Next week, the Canes look to build on their momentum and avoid getting bogged down in the swamp when they return to Gainesville, Florida to compete in the Tom Jones Memorial Meet.