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Shorter sweeps NCCAA outdoor championships

Heading into the final day of the National Christian College Athletic Association Outdoor Track & Field Championships, the Shorter men and women needed Saturday’s events to fall just the right way for respective first-place team finishes at Barron Stadium.

Thanks to an all-around outstanding day, and a few meet records, both Hawks squads took home national championships with the men notching 141 team points and the women matching with 141 of their own.

“They worked hard, they stayed focused. Coming right off conference, you’ve got to keep them focused with finals and graduation and everything. They had some good competition and we feel real good about how they did,” said Shorter Director of Track Scott Byrd.

Lakeisha Spikes set the meet record in the 100-meter dash with a 11.64, and took first in the 200 (23.85). Shorter also placed Alexis Smith (second) and Giselle Webb (fourth) in the 100, while Ashley Ballard, Smith and Webb rounded out the top four in the 200. Ayana Walker set a meet record in the 400-meter dash (54.66) and Ballard finished just behind her (55.51) to go one-two for the Hawks.

Shea Spicher took third in the 10,000-meter run (38:42.16), Kryslynn Davidson finished third in the 100-meter hurdles (14.69) and Destiny Jenkins placed second in the 3,000-meter steeplechase.

The 4x100 relay set a meet record at 46.01 and the 4x400 finished first (3:50.16). Zandra Lake placed third in triple jump (11.48m) and Cynia Clark finisher third in hammer throw (47.88m).

The men were led by Kirk Wilson, who’s meet records in the 100 (10.31) and 200 (20.49) set the Hawks up for success.

Shorter swept the top four in the 400 as Malik Fair (first, 47.62) set a meet record, followed by Gregory Roach (second, 47.71), Randall Dameron (third, 47.94) and Cole Rice (48.54).

Jihad Ragge took first in the 800-meter run with a stellar 1:55.90 time, while Wake Roberds placed third in the 400-meter hurdles (54.36) and Shorter took second in the 4x100 meter relay (41.27).

Stefanos Koufidis won the men’s pole vault (4.90m).

The men’s 4x400 team ran away with a meet-record 3:10.87 to conclude the scoring. After the win, Byrd spoke about a few of the outstanding performances from the three-day event, but maintained his focus on what’s next for the Hawks.

“Any time you can break a national record, I think it’s special,” said Byrd.

“Some of them are going to head to Georgia Tech. A lot of the ones that are top qualifiers, qualified for NCAA and the U.S. National Championships now. We’ll take a few days and let them rest, then come back and evaluate what we did.”

After sweeping both the indoor and outdoor championships, Byrd also noted how long of a grueling process it is to be ready for the big races and how his athletes are always working toward getting better.

“It’s a gradual buildup. These are student-athletes, so they’ve got to keep their studies up,” said Byrd.

“After indoors, we kind of reset and thought of it as a process. You’re not going to run your best times in the first meet, but it’s a gradual buildup and that’s what we try to get them to understand. We try to bring them along slow enough to where they peak at the right time.”

For the Hawks, they appear to be peaking at just the right time. And while it’s easy to appreciate what they’ve done now, the team must continue moving foward.

“We only have six seniors combined on both teams. I think our recruiting class is special and we’re excited about that,” said Byrd.

“I think going into next year, we’ll do well. Both teams are set up to do real well. The men are a little younger, but I think the women have an opportunity to do something real special in the next two years. The men are probably two years out. I think we’re taking the right steps to get where we need to.”