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UCF Track Defends AAC Indoor Title

Knights earn 3rd AAC Indoor Title in final chance

Courtesy of UCF Athletics
Nicole Whitaker

The UCF Knights Track and Field team captured its 3rd consecutive American Athletic Conference Championship after defending their Indoor title this weekend.

It is the team’s 4th AAC title overall and 3rd indoor title, which now leads the conference in indoor titles as the Knights prepare to move on to the Big 12 later this year.

Head Coach Dana Boone, distance coach Bryan Jackson, and field events coach Glenn Smith also repeated as the conference’s Coaching Staff of the Year.

UCF won the meet with a total of 132.25 points. While it may be less than the 2022 indoor meet, it still beat runner-up Cincinnati by 38.25 points.

95 points (71.8%) of the Knights’ total came from four events: the 60-meter dash, the 60-meter hurdles, the 200-meter dash, and the 400-meter dash. The finalists for each race (8 spots per event) earn points for their teams. Of the 32 spots across all four events’ finals, UCF occupied half of them.

Of the 12 podium positions across all four events, UCF athletes earned nine of them.

The Knights’ most valuable individual athlete of the meet was junior Rayniah Jones, who earned 22 points for the Knights on her own by repeating her 60-meter hurdles title, earning a silver medal in the 60-meter dash, and finishing 5th in the 200-meter dash.

She came just 0.5 points shy from being the Most Valuable Performer of the entire meet, an honor that ended up going to Cincinnati distance runner Rylee Penn.

Joining Jones with a gold medal was senior Beyonce Defreitas, who won the 200-meter dash with a 23.34-second time. The time ranks her 4th in program history in the event.

Colorado State transfer Janyah Jasper also brought home a gold medal for the Knights thanks to a 7.29-second time in the 60-meter dash. Her run ranked as the 34th-fastest time in the nation and 5th in program history. Jones and Defreitas joined Jasper on the podium for the event, finishing in 2nd and 3rd respectively to make the podium all Knights.

Junior Kiah Williams rounds out the quartet of Knights that took home a gold medal from Birmingham, Alabama. Her 52.97-second time ranks as the 37th fastest time in the nation and the 2nd-fastest in program history.

Not only did she lower her personal best in the event by 0.55 seconds, but she also became the 2nd athlete to run a sub-53-second indoor 400-meter dash in program history, joining her teammate, and fellow junior, Latasha Smith. Smith joined Williams on the podium Saturday, taking bronze with a 54.20-second time.

Multiple Knights also podiumed in the Triple Jump, with sophomore Asherah Collins taking bronze with a 12.77-meter best jump and senior Jasmine Scott-Kilgo taking silver with a 12.80-meter best jump.

Throw in a 7th-place finish from sophomore Natalia Madison and a further 12% of UCF’s total team points came from this event. This means that of the 17 events held at the meet, UCF scored 84% of its points on five of them (the 60-meter dash, 60-meter hurdles, 200-meter dash, 400-meter dash, and triple jump).

While it did not lead to points for the team, a couple of young distance runners did make some individual accomplishments at the meet.

Freshmen Isabella Richardson and Penelope Sosa’s times in the 5K run put them in 3rd (17:05.45) and 5th (17:36.31) place in program history respectively.

Sosa also competed in the 3K run and her 9:54.48 time ranks her 3rd in program history.

A distance-running event that did get the Knights some points for their team total came in the form of the distance medley. Junior Mariana Rodriguez, senior Caitlin Pinnell, freshman Kendall Hughes, and sophomore Lillian Holtery teamed up the run an 11:39.04 time that got them a 4th-place finish (which meant 5 points toward the team title) and the 4th-spot in the ranks for the event in program history.

For the full results of the American Athletic Conference Indoor Championship, check out AthleticLIVE’s result page.

The Knights will now have to wait for a few days for the NCAA to release its selections for its 2023 Indoor Track and Field Championship at 10 p.m. on Tuesday. Once it is released, those selected will prepare for the event itself, which is held in Albuquerque, New Mexico on March 10-11.