Highlighted by eight gold-medal performances, USCB track and field dazzled at the 2021 Sun Conference Championships, notching runner-up finishes for both the men’s and women’s squads Saturday and Sunday in Bradenton, Florida.
Iyana McKeever delivered another phenomenal weekend for the Sand Sharks, earning two first-place finishes on the field. The three-time Sun Conference Field Athlete of the Week shined again, taking first in the triple jump with a leap of 11.89 meters and finishing second in the long jump (5.65m).
Katelyn Shindler put together a phenomenal weekend, winning the pole vault by clearing a height of 2.65m before doubling down with gold in the javelin while setting a personal record of 30.41m.
Maisonne Jones captured the crown in the high jump, recording a mark of 1.57m and edging teammate Oriana Hernandez by 0.05m. Hernandez, who was awarded the conference’s Female Freshman of the Year honor, earned another second-place finish in the pole vault just 0.15m behind Shindler. Jana Barden notched a pair of bronze medals in the shot put (10.4m) and the hammer (29.54m), while Bianca Simpson placed third in the discus with a personal record (33.98m). Andrew Smith led the men’s contingent on the field, taking second in the pole vault with a mark of 4.15m.
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Tewodros Eckstein got the strong Sand Shark performance started on the track, winning the 10k race with a fantastic time of 35:23.68. Shamar Deacon and Mel Obadiah Jr. went 1-2 in the 800m, with Deacon taking gold thanks to a career-best 1:55.52 and Obadiah finishing right behind in second with a mark of 1:59.23.
USCB’s stellar relay squad struck gold twice, winning the 4x400m (3:19.44) and 4x800m (8:02.69) relays thanks to the quartet of Christian Austin, Kadari Mitchell, Deacon, and Obadiah. Mitchell shattered his personal record in the 100m by 0.27 seconds, as the NAIA All-American took bronze in the sprint (10.51s) while Deacon placed third in the 400m (48.43s).
McKeever cleaned up on the women’s side, earning a pair of second-place finishes in the 100m (11.78s) and 200m with a personal best 24.48s. Jenitza Trinidad placed third in the 800m (2:24.52), Jones continued her outstanding meet with a silver in the 100m hurdles (15.78), and Alexa Lashley took bronze in the 3000m steeplechase (12:56.14).
Algeria Scott excelled in the heptathlon, earning a second-place finish while teammate Mariya Martino was right behind in third. Zach Markow led the way in the decathlon, taking the bronze medal.
USCB returns to action on May 8 for the Montreat Last Chance Meet, as the Sand Sharks look to earn more qualifying marks for the NAIA Outdoor Championships later this month.
By Wes Kerr