BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – The University of Tennessee at Martin track and field squads continues its upward trajectory with yet another strong performance at the Samford Open Indoor in Birmingham, Ala. over the weekend.
UT Martin concluded its final tune-up prior to the Ohio Valley Conference Indoor Championship as 10 different athletes notched personal-records in the meet. Along with the team’s individual performances, the Skyhawks saw two of the team’s veterans set new school records in their respective events.
Fresh off setting a school record in the mile last week, junior Leonel Perez posted another exceptional performance to not only win the event with a time of 1:53.26 but also notch a new school-record. Perez’s time ranks as the second-fastest time in the OVC this season. Coming off an individual victory in the 800m last week at the SIU Don DeNoon Invitational, junior Jonathan Conley took yet another win. Jumping up in distance to the 1k, Conley set a new school-record along with a PR of 2:31.9 in the event to take the top podium spot.
Three different Skyhawks earned career-highs as Fedrick Kipyego narrowly missed out on an event victory in the men’s 5k, finishing second overall with a time of 14:27.51 for a new PR. Fellow freshman Andrew Dodson also posted a big PR of his own finishing in the top-five with a time of 15:11.85. Meanwhile on the women’s side, Sydney Larkin finished third overall with a time of 18:26.39 for a huge PR of her own in the event.
Dropping down to the 3k event, sophomore Kara Martin continued to excel with a PR time of 9:57 to win her second event in as many weeks after her mile victory a week ago at the SIU Don DeNoon Invitational. Highlighting the men’s 3k was sophomore Austin Rogers who produced a strong effort after a brief layoff.
In the shorter distances, freshman Kewan Slaton notched a PR in the men’s 400m with a time of 52.29 seconds. Va’shawnda Smith also posted a PR in the women’s 200m with a time of 25.79 seconds. Meanwhile, Malia Sanders (9.62 seconds) and Jasmyn Pilcher (8.08 seconds) both notched PRs of their own in the 60m hurdles and 60m dash, respectively.
“Our team leaders have stepped up this entire season and today was no different,” UT Martin head coach Peter Dalton said. “The highlight of today was the numerous freshmen and sophomores that stepped up and competed the way we know they can. It is a process for these younger athletes and we are so proud of their efforts today.”
UT Martin will now shift its training focus to the OVC Indoor Championship which will be hosted by Eastern Illinois on Friday, Feb. 23 through Saturday, Feb. 24.