Keydets Host Winter Relays, Lawson Dominates Weight Throw
Courtesy: SportsPhotoGuy.com for VMI

LEXINGTON, Va. The VMI track and field team hosted the 2009 VMI Winter Relays Saturday at Cormack Field House, as part of the VMI Winter Blitz. Behind a series of solid performances, including a historically notable effort in the men’s weight throw, the squad enjoyed a solid day at its home facility.

Chad Lawson set the tone for the Keydets in the day’s first event, the weight throw, as the sophomore hurled the implement 16.97 M (55-8 ”) to achieve a new personal best. The mark puts Lawson at #5 on the all-time VMI weight throw list. It also furthers his IC4A qualification effort, which he posted in the season opener at Kent State, and finally, the effort was also more than a meter better than his closest competitor, teammate and second-place finisher Cody Davis.

Aquisi Harris, who also sang the National Anthem to open Saturday’s proceedings, was involved in the next event in the circle, the women’s weight throw. Harris also set a new personal best, winning the event with a personal best toss of 13.95 M (45-9 ”). Finally, sophomore Dennis James, VMI’s high jump specialist, prevailed in his trademark event. James’ leap of 2.05 M (6’8 ”) was the only leap over two meters, and comes within .01 M of his personal best, set earlier this season.

“The efforts and determination I saw today in the circle, on the runway and on the track was outstanding.  I am especially proud of our rats, who are coming off an exhaustion filled weekend of breakout, “ offered VMI head coach Darrin Webb. “They came out and competed, and all the coaches are very proud of that. We took home seven first-place finishes, and 26 top-five finishes.”

Among the fourth-classmen who contributed was Ademola Titcombe, who won the men’s long jump with a 6.81 M (22’4 ”) effort. Titcombe was joined by Jasmine Hariston for the women’s team, who placed second in the triple jump with a 10.90 M (35’2 ”) effort. Hariston, who already holds the VMI women’s triple jump record, also competed in the high jump, placing fourth.

Yet another freshman to contribute was thrower Eliza Martinez, who earned a pair of top-five finishes. Martinez, a product of Rockbridge County, placed second in the women’s shot put as she tossed the shot 11.38 M (37’4”). She then followed that with a fifth-place effort in the weight throw, as she put a 12.84 M (42’1 ”) effort on the board. Fellow freshman Jenna Pickett dominated the women’s mile, running a 5:50.13 to win by some 13 seconds. Pickett then came back a short time later and placed second in the 800-meters to end her day successfully.

The freshmen were not the only class to contribute, as the others got into the act as well. Sophomore Zipporah McCann captured three top-three finishes, as she finished third in both the triple jump and long jump. McCann nearly won the high jump, but finished second on misses for her final top effort of the day. McCann’s classmate, Cody Davis, turned in a pair of top-three finishes. The Georgia native finished second in the weight throw, hurling the implement 15.73 M (51’7 ”), and then placed third in the shot with a 14.06 (46’1 ”) toss.

Finally, two seniors turned in strong performances in their final indoor home meets. Tyler Tucker won the pole vault, clearing a height of 4.35 M (14’3 ”) to lead a VMI sweep of the event’s top three places, while Hamid Abdurrahim turned in a personal best in the 55-meter hurdles. Abdurrahim’s 8.01 time earned him a third-place finish.

“Both the men’s and women’s teams are really coming together. Next weekend, we will split the team between Akron University in Ohio, and our Big South rival Liberty, in order to maximize our ability to face the right kind of competition,” said Coach Webb. “Those events will essentially be our final full-scale tune-ups for the Big South Championships, which will be run at Clemson University Feb. 26 and 27. I will be looking for continued improvement next weekend, and believe that will carry us through the stretch run. Continue to watch VMI track and field, as the program will be ready for the upcoming championships portion of its schedule.”

Indeed, the Keydets will return to action next weekend, as the team splits in two. Portions of the squad will head over the Blue Ridge Mountains to compete in the Liberty Quad at Liberty’s University’s indoor facility, while the remainder of the team will head to Akron, Ohio, to participate in the meet taking place on the campus of the Zips.