January 28, 2012

RAMS FIGHT HARD AT PSU NATIONAL INVITATIONAL & GMU'S PATRIOT GAMES

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. – The VCU Men's & Women's track & field program kicked into high gear on Saturday for a trip to the Penn State National Invitational at the Horace Ashenfelter III Indoor Track.

VCU freshman sprinter Kiara Porter has continued her hot streak, winning the 400 meter dash in a time of 54.82 seconds. The Yorktown, Va., native nearly broke the school record in the event, falling just short of Shaunette Davey's record from 2004.

Porter grabbed a second place finish in the 200 meters, crossing the finish line in 24.34 seconds, just .06 seconds after Joann Blakney.

"Kiara provided some great performances today," said VCU Head Coach Jon Riley. "She had a long day and proved she can compete with the best. She is really close to the indoor school record in the 400 meters and I believe will break it before the indoor season is over."

Redshirt-sophomore thrower Jaleesa Williams continues to outdo herself in the shot put, as this week her throw landed 14.57 meters away from the starting point and garnered her fourth place honors. The heave outdid Williams previous school record throw of 14.28 meters that she set earlier this season.

"Jaleesa has throw the shot put in three meets so far this season, and each time she has improved her performance. It has been one of her goals since she arrived on campus, to put out a performance like this in a meet of this quality. She's still making corrections and looking to improve as the season continues and battle for medal position in meets bigger than this one."

Both the Men's and Women's 4x400 relay teams put together solid performances, with the women breaking the school record and the men hitting the IC4A qualifying mark. The women's came in fifth in the event with a time of 3:45.39, while the men came in eighth with a time 3:17.32 seconds.

"I'm proud of both Men's and Women's team," added Riley. "They fought hard from start to finish to win their respective heat. That's what I want to see every time we step on the track."

While part of the team was at Penn State, the Rams also sent a number of  student-athletes to the Patriot Games hosted by George Mason on Saturday.

The Black & Gold saw a number of athletes turn in impressive performances.

The Rams grabbed first and second place finishes in the pole vault, with sophomore Justine Dutton and redshirt-senior Stephanie Newing earning the gold and silver.

"Justine suffered an injury last weekend, so I was very pleased with how she was able to have the courage to bounce back so quickly," said VCU assistant coach Allyson Thomas. "I am expecting big things out of her and Stephanie when we go to New York next weekend against some talented competition.

VCU sophomore Shanita Glenn finished tied for second in the high jump, with a leap of 1.60 meters.

The VCU men earned first place finishes in 1,000 meters, pole vault and shot put.

Junior mid-distance runner Alex Hinton earned the first place ribbon in the 1,000, with a time of 2:30.40. Hinton edged out Richmond's Matthew Groff by over a second.

Sophomore Matt Hatheway set a personal record in the record pole vault on his way to winning the event as he cleared 4.35 meters.

Freshman thrower Ryan Coles earned his first collegiate victory in the shot put with his heave landing 15.27 meters. Coles was joined in the top five by teammate Luke Thomason, who grabbed fourth place honors with a throw of 14.03 meters.

VCU sophomore Kyle Sipple picked up third place honors in the 500 meters, crossing the finish line in 1:07.36. 

The Rams will next be in action on Feb. 3-4, at the New Balance Invite in New York, N.Y. 

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