Grant Becomes Second Cavalier to Win Regional Title
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Senior All-American Billie-Jo Grant became just the second Cavalier to ever win an event at the NCAA East Regional Championships Friday afternoon, taking first-place in the discus and securing a place in the 2008 NCAA Outdoor Championships. Grant led all competitors with a throw of 53.49m to join Inge Jorgensen who won the javelin in 2004 and 2005 as the only Cavaliers to ever win a regional title. With the top-finish, Grant will automatically advance to the national meet in Des Moines, Iowa, on June 11-14.
Junior Andrew Jesien ran a 3:48.32 in the 1500m, which was fast enough to qualify him for tomorrow’s finals where he will attempt to secure a spot at the national meet, as well. Automatic qualification to the national championships is awarded to the top five finishers from each of the regional championships and the top three relay teams in each region.
The Cavaliers’ men’s and women’s 4×100 relay teams kicked the track events off early this afternoon, with the men running a season-best finish in 40.37. The finish placed the team of Conlon Bonner, Reuben Jones, Adams Abdulrazaaq and Meikle Paschal in tomorrow’s finals, marking the first time a Virginia relay squad has advanced to the regional finals. The women’s team of Rashawnda James, Janne’a Bridgeford, Galyn Iloka and Talia Wise combined for a time of 46.09.
Kevin Tshirhart and Mike Hagos joined Jesien in the 1500m, finishing in 3:54.67 and 3:58.80, respectively, while Amy Bilmanis joined Grant in the discus. Bilmanis threw 49.16m in the discus and Meghan Briggs rounded out those competing in field events with a throw 44.07m in the javelin.
Lauren Echko, the school record holder in the 100m hurdles, crossed the line in 13.95, while Abdulrazaaq finished the 110m hurdles in 14.42. Abdulrazaaq also finished the 400m hurdles in 54.42, while Greg Nelson finished right ahead of the first-year, in 54.36.
Jones finished the 100m dash in a personal-best 10.46 and in the 200m dash, he finished in 21.24, while Conlon Bonner clocked in at 21.65. Both Cavaliers just barely missed their personal-bests, while Bridgeford and Wise also completed the event. Bridgeford crossed the line in 24.18 and Wise had a time of 24.24.
Paschal completed the 400m in 47.66 and Lauretta Dezubay finished the 5000m in 16:53.74.
Tomorrow’s events will kick off at 10 a.m., but the Cavaliers will not begin competition until 4 p.m. Grant and Alexa Manning will begin with the shot put, while Katie Tershel and Rashawnda James will compete in the triple jump. Yemi Ayeni will throw the discus at 6 p.m.
On the track, Jesien will run the 1500m at 4:30 p.m., and Stephanie Garcia and Steve Finley will join in the competition at 6:15 p.m., racing in the 3000m steeplechase. The men’s 4x400m relay team will close out the championships, competing at 7:20 p.m.
100H: Lauren Echko (13.95); 200m: Janne’a Bridgeford (24.18), Talia Wise (24.24); 400H: Ayla Smith (DNS); 800m: Huma Husain (2:10.52); 5000m: Lauretta Dezubay (16:53.74); 4×100: Virginia (46.09)
Disc: Billie-Jo Grant (1st 53.49m), Amy Bilmanis (49.16m); Jav: Meghan Briggs (44.07m).
100m: Reuben Jones (10.46); 110H: Adams Abdulrazaaq (14.42); 200m: Reuben Jones (21.24), Conlon Bonner (21.65); 400m: Meikle Paschal (47.66); 400H: Greg Nelson (54.36), Adams Abdulrazaaq (54.42); 1500m: Andrew Jesien (10th 3:48.32), Kevin Tschirhart (3:54.67), Mike Hagos (3:58.80); 5000m: Emil Heineking (DNF); 4×100: Virginia (40.37)
SP: Yemi Ayeni (Scratch).