By Mike Lehman, TTU Sports Information
CHARLESTON, Ill. – It was a senior-led, strong finish to the Ohio Valley Conference Outdoor Championships for the Tennessee Tech track & field team Saturday, as the Golden Eagles wrapped up the third and final day of action at O'Brien Field on the campus of Eastern Illinois.
The purple and gold finished the first OVC outdoor meet since 2019 seventh among the 12 teams competing, totaling 45 points among the three days of competition, including 27 alone on Saturday. Southeast Missouri rallied from behind Belmont to capture the league title, scoring 148 total points.
"I am very proud of our seniors," Tech head coach Peter Dalton expressed. "It was very nice to see them finish their careers on a high note and lead this team. They leave this program in very capable hands with a promising young crop of ladies that turned in a lot of lifetime best this weekend. We are very excited for the future of this program."
Senior Ceirra Tate, the most decorated member of the Golden Eagle roster, capped her career with a solid day on the track. Running the first leg of the 4x100m relay, she joined teammates, Teanua Anderson, Samaria Allen and Lyn'Nikka Vance in turning in a time of 47.18 to finish fifth for four points.
Tate also led off the 4x400m relay, combining with Anya Akili, Vance, and Trenia Stephens to place fifth for another four points with a time of 3:54.78. The Memphis native concluded her career as a four-time OVC individual champion with three total team titles, four program records and two conference marks.
After clinching a place in the 400m hurdle finals on Thursday, senior Tieara Norman picked up a big six points for the Golden Eagles in the event, placing third overall. A transfer from Fresno State who lost her only previous outdoor campaign in Cookeville to the COVID-19 pandemic, she turned in a personal record of 1:01.91 in her final meet with the purple and gold.
After running the anchor leg of the 4x100m relay, Vance turned right around to take part in the 100m. The sophomore delivered a time of 11.67, earning six more points for the Golden Eagles with a third-place finish. She concluded the day by covering the third leg of the 4x400m relay.
"We really have not had a lot of opportunities to run the relays together this season," Dalton explained. "It was such a turbulent year between COVID and different injuries. Everything came together at the right time and I am proud of these ladies for stepping up despite the challenges."
Turning in a huge PR in the triple jump was sophomore Jalena Curbeam, earning four points for her squad with a fourth-place finish. The Nashville native leaped to a distance of 11.57m, topping her previous best mark of 11.30m.
Freshman Jadae Joseph narrowly missed out on a PR of her own, qualifying for the finals in the event. Despite an eyebrow-raising performance for the youngster, the Miami native also just missed scoring for the Golden Eagles, finishing ninth in the event with a distance of 11.06m.
Fellow rookie Katie Long notched a personal-best mark in the javelin, hurling a mark of 37.95m to beat her old record by more than a full meter. The Boaz, Ala. native's strong end to the year clinched her a seventh-place finish and two more points for the Tech squad.
A trio of Golden Eagles each captured lifetime bests in their first-ever attempt at the 5,000m run, led by Surrey, England native Ruby Wyles. The freshman completed the event with a time of 18:28.00 to rank in the top-15. Rahab Sawe, a sophomore, clocked in with a mark of 18:56.31 while rookie Amanda Laboy finished with a time of 19:06.92.
The performance from the long-distance runners was an encouraging sign for the Golden Eagle cross country team and their upcoming 2021 campaign, which the three underclassmen set to return and anchor the squad.
Photo by Dominic Baima, EIU Athletics