The UCF Track and Field Team won seven gold medals en route to the 2022 American Athletic Conference Indoor Championship title this weekend.
The Knights scored 156.5 total points, the highest team score in meet history, to beat out runner-up Cincinnati by 41.5 points. It is the fourth indoor title for the Knights in program history, but it is the first since the 2018 hiring of head coach Dana Boone.
“We came here four years ago and we said we wanted to build a championship team and here’s the fruition of it,” Boone said to ESPN+ after capturing the title. “These kids have been amazing, the staff is amazing. Everyone has done a wonderful job, they bought in, and I couldn’t be prouder to be the head coach of this program.”
Rayniah Jones does Rayniah Jones things
Three of the team’s seven gold medals came courtesy of sophomore Rayniah Jones. Over an hour and 15 minutes, per ESPN+, she won the 60-meter hurdles, the 60-meter dash, and the 200-meter dash finals on Saturday.
“Amazing young lady!!” Boone said in a Twitter post. “She was our first signee four years ago. She said she would help me build it!! And that she did!”
Jones’ 60-meter hurdles time of 7.90 seconds also set a new program record. Jones lowered the record by 0.11 seconds and is the first athlete in program history to run a sub eight-second run in the event.
“I don’t know what part I’m more obsessed with.. the race or my excitement,” Jones said in a Twitter post.
i don’t know what part i’m more obsessed with.. the race or my excitement https://t.co/iDZ15y3TsU— . (@RayniahJones) February 26, 2022
Jones was not the only one simultaneously getting the gold and a school record. On Friday, senior Brittany Floyd broke the meet record, her own personal record, and the program record to take the gold in the pentathlon with 3,993 points.
Sophomore Latasha Smith did a similar thing in her event, the 400-meter dash. Smith’s gold medal-winning time, 52.32 seconds, shaved 0.56 seconds off her previous personal best and school record. It also set a new meet record.
“I just trusted my training,” Smith said to ESPN+. “I trained so hard all fall, trusted my coach, and most importantly I trusted myself, believed in myself. I knew I could do it.”
Freshman Asherah Collins also took home a gold medal in the triple jump with a 13.15-meter (43 ft. 1.75 in.) best jump, breaking her personal and school freshman record. Collins also won the gold in the AAC Outdoor Championship in the triple jump last year.
“I broke the freshman record again, it was my record btw also while PRing how ab tht,” Collins said in a Twitter post.
i broke the freshman record again , it was my record btw also while PRing how ab tht— Royalty (@Sherraaaah) February 26, 2022
The Knights’ final gold medal came in their final event, the 4x400-meter relay. The quartet of Smith, junior Samieryah Bradwell, and freshmen Kiah Williams and Danielle Bess teamed up to run a 3:38.92 time to take the top spot.
The team also captured eight combined silver and bronze medals. One such occurrence was in the distance medley relay, where juniors Charlotte Crook and Katie Pinnell and sophomores Mariana Rodriguez and Beyonce Defreitas teamed up to run an 11:29.94. It was enough for a silver medal and to break the program record in the event, which had stood since 2016.
“It’s when you can celebrate achievements like this with your best friends ! No other team I would have wanted to do this with,” Crook said in a Twitter post.
it’s when you can celebrate achievements like this with your best friends ! No other team I would have wanted to do this with https://t.co/gcFndZFqeX— charlotte (@CharlotteCrook2) February 26, 2022
Three Knights brought home individual silver medals from Birmingham: senior Ciara Holback in the 60-meter dash, Defreitas in the 200-meter dash, and Crook in the 800-meter run. Meanwhile, four athletes came away with bronze medals: junior Kaylor Harris in the 60-meter hurdles, junior Jasmine Scott-Kilgo in the long jump, Pinnell in the 800-meter run, and sophomore Kaliah Jones in the high jump.
With Jones’ guarantee from the previous Sunday fulfilled, the team returns home to Orlando with the conference championship trophy in tow. Now, the team awaits for March 1 to see who amongst them will be selected to return to Birmingham for the NCAA Indoor Championship on March 11-12.
LFG!!!!!!!!!!!! RING US PLEASE and do me a favor and put some respect on OUR NAME https://t.co/BGGsLRWjyX— . (@RayniahJones) February 26, 2022