Roberts breaks heptathlon record, Sanga posts conference-leading 5K at Virginia Challenge

Roberts breaks heptathlon record, Sanga posts conference-leading 5K at Virginia Challenge

By Nate Perry, TTU Sports Information

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. – Khemani Roberts and Purity Sanga continued their  impressive outdoor seasons for Tennessee Tech track and field, as Roberts reset her own program mark in the heptathlon, and Sanga added another No. 1 time to her Ohio Valley Conference resume on Saturday at the Virginia Challenge.

Following an outstanding first day that saw her score 3,353 points over four events, Roberts responded with 2,129 points over the final three on Saturday for a new Tech record 5,482. Roberts took second place out of 17 entrants with that total, and finished just 199 points behind the winner, Jordan Gray of Kennesaw State.

It marks back-to-back record-breaking trips to the Virginia Challenge for Roberts, who established the program's previous heptathlon standard, 5,353 points, in 2018.

At the moment, Roberts' high score leads the Ohio Valley Conference Outdoor Performance List by an incredible 693-point margin. She ascends all the way to No. 7 on the NCAA Division I East Qualifying List, and 20th on the NCAA Division I Combined List.

Roberts set the tone early for her banner day, coming in second place in the long jump with a best of 5.89 meters (19 feet, 4 inches). It was Roberts' second best long jump ever, and her top distance in a heptathlon competition.

The Trinidad and Tobago native picked up the javelin next, and placed fifth with a personal-best 34.26-meter throw (112-5). Roberts' heave, which was a sizable improvement on her previous top mark, 33.09 meters (108-7), would rank in the top 20 on the OVC leaderboard had it been done in a standalone javelin competition.

Roberts' final task was the 800 meters, where she took sixth place with a time of 2-minutes, 25.11-seconds. Her sixth-place finish was her lowest in any of the seven events.

Raven Smith was the first Golden Eagle in action for the second straight day, and leapt a series-best 5.55 meters in the long jump (18-2 1/2). That distance, which was the senior's second best of the season, gave her 13th place out of 18 competitors. Her best jump, a 5.75-meter attempt from the Hilltopper Relays, is tied for fourth on the OVC outdoor list.

Like Smith, Ceirra Tate competed in her second event of the weekend and recorded a time of 24.75 seconds in the 200 meters, good enough for 17th place out of 38 runners. The mark is a new season-best for Tate, and a .05-second improvement on her 24.80 from the Hilltopper Relays two weeks ago. She remains in the No. 7 spot on the OVC list for the 200.

Purity Sanga completed the 5,000 meters in an all-time personal record 16:37.06, placing her 22nd in the 43-member field. The Kenyan's first career outdoor attempt in the event now leads the OVC by almost 15 seconds, and was less than seven seconds behind Micayla Rennick's program standard of 16:30.27. Sanga is now on top of the OVC leaderboard for three different distance events: the 1,500 meters (4:26.32), the 5,000, and the 10,000 meters (34:13.03).

For their final regular-season meet of the year, the Golden Eagles will head north for the Louisville Lenny Lyles/Clark Wood Invitational, which will be contested Friday and Saturday, April 27-28.

Photo by Thomas Corhern, TTU Sports Information