By Nate Perry, TTU Sports Information
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. – While it was only a small contingent of Golden Eagles competing on Friday at the Virginia Challenge, the group certainly left its mark. Raven Smith took second place with an outdoor-school-record triple jump, and heptathlete Khemani Roberts sits in second place after four events, keyed by a school record and victory in the high jump and another victory in the 200 meters.
Smith soared 12.46 meters (40 feet, 10 1/2 inches) on the second of her six-jump series to reset her own outdoor program record and notch the runner-up finish. The mark was almost three inches better than her previous standard in the Tech record book, a 12.39-meter jump (40-7 1/2) from last year's Ohio Valley Conference Championships.
For the time being, Smith's distance moves her from No. 7 to No. 1 on the OVC Outdoor Performance List, and has her ranked in the top 40 on the NCAA Division I East Qualifying List.
The second-place finish was the Atlanta native's highest ever in the outdoor triple jump, and third-highest overall. Javonne Antoine of N.C. State was the event winner, posting a 12.58-meter jump (41-3 1/4).
After running the 100-meter hurdles in 14.85 seconds for ninth place, Roberts took her performance to another level over the last three heptathlon events on Friday, and now sits in second place with 3,353 points. She trails Jordan Gray of Kennesaw State, the leader of the 17-member field, by just 43 tallies.
She began her impressive stretch by winning the high jump, and matching her own Tech outdoor record with a clearance of 1.77 meters (5-9 1/4). Roberts was the only competitor to get over the bar at 1.77, and picked up a whopping 941 points for her efforts. The senior from Bon Accord, Trinidad and Tobago has now won the high jump in all six of her multi-event appearances at Tech (pentathlon and heptathlon).
Roberts moved then to the shot put, where she took an all-time personal best 11.97-meter heave (39-3 1/4). Roberts' new top mark gave her fourth place, awarded her 659 points, and is an improvement of exactly 11 inches on her old standard (11.69, 38-4 1/4).
The 2019 Golden Wings Female Newcomer of the Year ended her day in style, posting a convincing victory in the 200 meters. While her time of 25.24 seconds was far from her personal best, Roberts smoked the rest of the competition, coming in nearly seven-tenths of a second ahead of the No. 2, Timara Chapman of N.C. State (25.90).
Thanks to her tremendous Day 1 performance, Roberts has better-than-decent odds to improve on her all-time heptathlon best, 5,353 points, which was set at last year's Virginia Challenge. The all-around star from the Caribbean will have that opportunity when the final three events get going on Saturday at 11:30 a.m. CT.
The only other Golden Eagle in action on Friday morning was Ceirra Tate, who ran the 100 meters for the first time this season, and finished in 12.26 seconds for 21st place out of 36. Tate's time beat out runners from N.C. State, Notre Dame, Pittsburgh and Virginia, among other Power 5 opponents in attendance.
While the Golden Eagles are finished with their competitive agenda for Friday, severe weather in the Charlottesville area has postponed roughly half of the day's remaining events. Originally slated for a 10 a.m. CT start time, Smith will now get Tech's second day of action underway at 9 a.m. with the long jump.
The complete, updated schedule for what is now a jam-packed Saturday is below.
Photo by Thomas Corhern, TTU Sports Information