By Mike Lehman, TTU Sports Information
CHARLESTON, Ill. – It was a strong start for the Tennessee Tech track & field team Thursday, as the Golden Eagles completed day one of the Ohio Valley Conference Outdoor Championships at O'Brien Field on the campus of Eastern Illinois University.
Following the first of three straight days of competition, the Golden Eagles ranked in a tie for fourth overall with Murray State, totaling 13 points. Belmont led the first day of action with 33 points.
Kicking off the action to start the day was sophomore Anya Akili and freshman Cayla Johnson, representing the purple and gold in the heptathlon. The two youngsters completed the first four legs of the event, both setting a pair of personal records along the way.
A native of Mason Hall, Trinidad and Tobago, Akili ranked fifth overall with 2,812 points with three events to go. She finished second among the heptathlon participants in the 100m hurdles, clocking a time of 14.78. She followed it up by clearing 1.46m in the high jump.
Akili produced her first PR of the day in the shot put, finishing third in the third leg of the heptathlon with a distance of 9.70m. Closing out her day, the sophomore raced to a new personal record of 25.36 in the 200m.
Johnson was seventh among the heptathlon competitors through the four events, totaling 2,715 points. After producing top-10 finishes in the 100m hurdles (15.62) and the high jump (1.46m), the Upper Marlboro, Md. native shredded her previous career-best mark in the shot put.
Finishing second in the event, her throw of 11.55m beat her previous best effort by more than seven-tenths of a meter. Johnson also turned in a new personal record in the 200m, clearing her old mark by more than a full second with a time of 26.60.
Rookie Samaria Allen was the first Golden Eagle to see the podium in the 2021 OVC Championships, registering a massive PR in the long jump. Placing third overall, the Lithonia, Ga. native gave Tech its first six points, leaping to a distance of 5.96m, besting her previous top mark of 5.30m.
Sophomore and Monee, Ill. native Lyn'Nikka Vance also produced some points for her squad. Also competing in the long jump, she scored two points with a seventh-place finish and distance of 5.55m.
Capturing five points for the Cookeville crew was freshman Ruby Wyles, making her Golden Eagle debut after battling injury during the regular season. The Surrey, England native made her first performance count, placing fourth in the 10,000m run with a time of 38:13.02.
Senior Tieara Norman put herself in good position for Friday, advancing to the finals of the 400m hurdles. The Fresno State transfer finished third overall and second in her flight in the prelims, clocking a time of 1:03.10.
Day two action is slated to begin with multi events at 9:00 a.m. CT Friday morning. Field events will kick off at 2:30 p.m. and running events at 5:00 p.m. Saturday's final day of competition consists of field events starting at 11:00 a.m. and running events at 12:30 pm.
Photo by Femi Usikalu, Eastern Illinois Athletics