There was no better way for an outdoor track and field season at Miami to begin than by a freshman breaking a 16-year old team record.
Erikka Hill produced a 47.01 mark in javelin for a second-place finish in only her second career throw to open Miami’s more competitive outdoor season as host of the Hurricane Invitational.
Held at Cobb Stadium on Friday and Saturday, the event welcomed a wide selection of schools from near and far, though none were able to prevent the weekend from being headlined by Hurricanes performers.
The two most significant results of the weekend took place in the women’s 4×100 meter relay and the men’s long jump, as the Hurricanes set NCAA-leading marks in the two events.
Jacious Sears, Alfreda Steele, Lauryn Harris and Mercy Ntia-Obong crossed the finish line in 44.65 seconds for UM, finishing just ahead of Purdue and securing the NCAA’s fastest time yet.
Junior Russell Robinson’s first-place NCAA mark came as a result of a 7.81-meter long jump, enough to win the Hurricane Invitational and set Robinson up for what could be a memorable season in the jumping events alongside high jump ace Isaiah Holmes, who did not participate in the invitational.
“I thought it was a really good team effort,” Miami director of track and field and cross country Amy Deem said of her team’s success. “It was a great outdoor opener. We had some good competition with the Big Ten and Purdue, and South Florida coming down.”
Strong competition was not enough to keep senior Debbie Ajagbe from dominating the throwing events, taking first place in the discus and the hammer throw, and third place in the shot put which featured an all-Miami podium. Sophomores Hannah Hall and Selina Dantzler took first and second place, respectively.
Distance events also favored Miami, in which it found success. Freshmen Daphnee Lavassas sweep the 1500 and 3000-meter races on the women’s side, while sophomores Oskars Bambals and Justin Rittenhouse won each for the men.
“It was a great way to start the weekend off with the discus. Debbie, Selina and Kristina [Rakocevic] all had really solid openers,” Deem said. “It was nice to see Justin and Daphnee look strong in the 3000.”
The Hurricanes women experienced more success on the track in the 4×400 relay. Kayla Johnson and Sierra Oliveira joined Sears and Steele to cross the line in 3:38.70 seconds, achieving enough of the victory.
On the men’s side, junior Jeffrey Williams collected UM’s final victory with a heave of 16.90 meters in shotput.
After a strong first-weekend showing, the team returns right back to action at Cobb Stadium for the Hurricane Collegiate Invitational on March 26.