The UCF Knights Track and Field team got to celebrate on the campus of USF Sunday night after it captured its fourth consecutive American Athletic Conference title in its Outdoor Track and Field Championship.
The Knights won with a meet record of 163 points, 58 points ahead of second-place Houston and tying the mark the program set in last season’s AAC Outdoor Championship.
“You can set a goal and a plan, and sometimes it doesn’t come to fruition, but to see it happen and to win four championships in a two-year period is something that’s going to be special and I’ll remember this for a long time,” head coach Dana Boone, whose staff was named the conference’s Coaching Staff of the Year, said.
Junior Rayniah Jones led the team individually, racking up 26 points thanks to gold medals in the 100-meter dash and the 100-meter hurdles, and a bronze medal in the 200-meter dash. Jones was named the Most Valuable Performer for the women’s teams in the championship.
Jones’ 100-meter dash time, 10.94 seconds, set a new AAC meet record, ranks her second in the event in program history, and sixth in the nation this season. She is now the second athlete in program history to run a sub-11-second time.
Additionally, her 12.66-second 100-meter hurdle time set an AAC meet record and her 22.64-second 200-meter dash time puts her in fourth in program history in the event.
The Knights not only had to contend with the other teams but also with Mother Nature. While the Florida heat was something the team is more familiar with, Saturday night brought a 4-hour and 45-minute weather delay that forced the team to compete late into the night, as late as 11:26 p.m. in UCF’s case.
Jones was amongst the athletes affected, having to run her 100-meter hurdle prelim at 9 p.m., followed by her 100-meter dash prelim at 10:35 p.m. She said it was the first time she’s had to run so late at night.
“You have to be able to perform under any conditions at any time, and I think that’s what makes being a track athlete so special,” Jones said.
An updated schedule for tonight ⬇️— UCF Track & Field/XC (@UCF_Track) May 13, 2023
9 pm - 100H and Long Jump
9:35 pm - 800m
10:05 pm - 400m
10:35 pm - 100m
11:05 pm - 3000m Steeple#ChargeOn
Jones was not the only athlete affected by the weather delay to bring home multiple medals this weekend.
Fellow junior sprinter Latasha Smith had to wait until 10:05 p.m. for her 400-meter dash prelim on Saturday night. She not only took gold in the event final the next day, but she also got the gold in the 200-meter dash as well.
Her 22.09-second 200-meter dash time set a new AAC meet record by 0.45 seconds, a new program record by 0.37 seconds, and ranks her second in the nation in the event.
Smith also lowered the program 400-meter dash record, which she already held, by just over a quarter of a second to 51.21 seconds.
The Knights once again accrued a large portion of their points from sprint and hurdle events, with 87 of its 163 points (53%) coming from the 100m dash, 200m dash, 400m dash, and 100m hurdles.
“They stepped up and did everything that we practiced, everything that we thought could happen, and some things that I didn’t see coming happened today,” Boone said.
Other athletes to medal in these events include the 4x100-relay team, who took the gold with a 44.06-second time, sophomore Kiah Williams, who got the silver in the 400-meter dash, and senior Kaylor Harris, who earned the bronze in the 100-meter hurdles,
The UCF Women take The American Indoor and Outdoor Track and Field Championships!— The American (@American_Conf) May 15, 2023
Head Coach Dana Boone joins @Morgan_Uber after their victory, and get's her surprise ice bath too @AmericanXCTrack x @UCF_Track pic.twitter.com/smuv5jsKhd
Over on the field side, senior Jasmine Scott-Kilgo and sophomore Asherah Collins earned 32 combined points for the Knights by getting on the podium in both the long jump and triple jump.
On Saturday night, after resuming at 9 p.m. following the weather delay, Collins took silver in the long jump with a 6.20-meter best jump, closely followed by Scott-Kilgo who took bronze with a 6.19-meter best jump.
The next day, Collins took gold in the triple jump with a program-record 13.30-meter best jump. It was one centimeter ahead of the old program record, set by Scott-Kilgo back in March. The senior would take silver in Tampa with a 13.05-meter best jump.
“Me and triple jump have been battling all season,” Collins said. “At practice, I’ve just been working on bringing speed through the board and being slow through my phases and my coach said it could be either one of us, just whoever shows up on the day takes home the gold and that’s what happened.”
Also in the field events, junior Adrienne Adams threw a 53.13-meter best throw to take the silver medal in the discus throw.
For the full results from every Knights athlete in the 2023 American Athletic Conference Outdoor Track and Field Championship, check out live.halfmiletiming.com.
Thanks to UCF’s performance in Tampa, it has gone up six spots in the USTFCCCA poll by six spots to #14.
With its final AAC meet now in the books, UCF now looks to the NCAA Championship. Knights athletes that are selected for the East Preliminary, held in Jacksonville from May 25-27, will have the chance to compete for a spot in the NCAA Outdoor Championship in Austin, Texas from June 7-10.
“The message we sent is ‘women can do it all,’ honestly,” Collins said. “I hope we leave a big mark on AAC from going back-to-back-to-back-to-back wins, and it’ll be something that they will never forget.”