The UCF Knights Track and Field team rounded out the athletic year for the university at the NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships in Austin, Texas on June 8 and 10.
Two veteran athletes of the championships, junior Rayniah Jones and sophomore Asherah Collins came away with Second Team All-American honors, headlining a total of 10 All-American selections.
Jones accounted for three of the 10 selections, the aforementioned Second Team All-American selection for her ninth-place finish in the 100-meter hurdles final, and two Honorable Mention All-American Selections for the 100-meter dash and the 4x100-meter relay.
It was the first NCAA Track and Field Championships, Indoor or Outdoor, that Jones competed in three events. Head coach Dana Boone said she consulted with Jones on the decision to do that, but it was ultimately Jones’ final decision.
“Doing all three events was definitely a challenge, but I’m not the type of athlete nor person to back down from a challenge,” Jones said. “So, I was just very excited to take that head-on.”
As for Collins, the sophomore made history in the triple jump with a 13.48-meter jump (or 44 ft. 2.75 in.) that lowered the program record in the event by 18 centimeters (or about 7 inches).
She finished 10th place in the event, coming two centimeters short of ninth and making it to the final. Since the beginning of the 2023 season, Collins has lowered her personal best in the outdoor triple jump by 43 centimeters (or 1.41 feet).
“She showed up, did everything you could have possibly asked, any other year that would have made the final and probably would have been First Team All-American,” Boone said. “But that’s why we do this sport. You got to line up and we got to be the best on that day.”
A pair of seniors got to extend their final seasons as Knights to Texas in hurdler Kaylor Harris and jumper Jasmine Scott-Kilgo. Scott-Kilgo took home 18th in the long jump with a 5.95-meter best jump (or 19 ft. 6.25 inches) while Harris finished 22nd in the 100-meter hurdles.
Rounding out UCF’s contingent, junior Kiah Williams finished in 21st in the 400-meter dash with a 52.34-second time and the 4x100-meter relay team, made up of Jones, sophomore I’Asia Wilson, junior Beyonce Defreitas, and senior Daija Lampkin did not finish their semifinal heat due to an error on the final baton handoff.
“I would have hoped that the [4x100-relay team] could have gone back and returned as first team all Americans and made the final,” Boone said. “We definitely were in position to do that, but sometimes things happen and you got to take the winds with the losses. So, we’ll just chalk that up and come back even hungrier next year.”
Next season will be the program’s first in the Big 12, where for one season the Knights will get to be conference mates with Texas, whose athletes took home individual national championships last weekend in the 100-meter dash, 200-meter dash, 400-meter dash, 4x100-meter relay, and long jump. The Longhorns also came away with the team title with 83 points, 32 points ahead of second-place Florida.
“I think the enemy of greatness is comparison,” Boone said. “So we’re not going to worry about what they do. We just have to figure out how to be the best athletes that we are because we’re going to work within what we got.”
It will be a return to the conference for Boone, who was an associate head women’s coach at Texas Tech before arriving in Orlando. After a “historic and fun” final season in The American, Boone said the team has made “a lot of positive steps” as it prepares to enter a new era.
“I’m pleased with the progress,” Boone said. “It gives us confidence as we move to the next level, the Big 12. Obviously, I’ve been there before, but I think we’re ready and we’ll find a way to hold our own.”