EMU's track and field freshmen led the way with top finishes at the Jack Toms Invitational this weekend hosted by the University of Lynchburg.
Highlighting the freshmen was Michaela Chowning (Urbanna, Va./Middlesex), who took first in the high jump. Elsewhere, Cor'shauna Cunningham (Strasburg, Va./Warren County) earned second in shot put, Alijah Johnson (Upper Marlboro, Md./Frederick Douglass) earned fourth in the 200 meter dash and Eli Roeschley (Harrisonburg, Va./Turner Ashby) finished fourth in the men's long jump.
The Royals opened the meet on the distance side on Friday, with all eight competing athletes running in the 5K.
"It was supposed to be an elaborate workout," said Head Coach Bob Hepler. "Three mile warm-up, 3.1 mile race, and two mile cool-down."
However, through this "workout," the EMU athletes collectively dropped 3:17 from their PRs (personal records).
Sophomore Justice Allen (Waynesboro, Va./Waynesboro) won his heat with a 21-second PR and a time of 16:15. He beat out eight men from the first, faster heat to come in eighth place overall.
Derrick Chirinos (Harrisonburg, Va./Harrisonburg) ran a 17:29, a six-second PR. Charles Thornton (Hamilton, Va./Loudoun Valley) paced himself to a 53-second PR and a time of 17:52. Jack Rice (Palmyra, Va./Fluvanna County) ran an 18:05, despite recent injury.
Senior Laurie Serrell (Harrisonburg, Va./Harrisonburg) led the charge for the EMU women, coming in fifth overall with her whopping PR of 19:10 - 1:24 faster than she had ever run it before.
Abigail Shelly (Collinsville, Miss./West Lauderdale) also had a substantial PR, dropping 1:30 from her previous time to run a 19:38 and earn 10th place.
Chowning's winning jump was on Friday night as well. She cleared 1.52 meters (4ft-11.75in). Coach Hepler pointed out her performance as a highlight from the meet.
On the men's side of high jump was Wade Banks (Basye, Va./Stonewall Jackson) and Jamel Howard (Leesburg, Va./Tuscarora), coming in sixth at 1.78m (5ft-10in) and eighth at 1.73m (5ft-8in), respectively.
Roeschley's mark of 6.44m (21ft-1.5in) in the long jump earned him his fourth place finish.
Saturday's competition started with Johnson and TyJuan Nelson (Charlotte, N.C./Rocky River) in the 100 meter dash. Johnson took eighth place with 11.56; Nelson finished in 12.64.
In the 200, Johnson ran 22.07 to finish fourth of 42 runners.
Kiana Childress (Palmyra, Va./Fluvanna County) ran in the women's 100 meter dash, crossing the line in 14.46.
Banks ran both the 110 meter hurdles and the 400 meter hurdles, finishing eighth (16.83) and tenth (1:01).
Chowning had another top finish in the 400 meter hurdles, finishing third with a time of 1:11.
EMU had an impressive showing in the shot put, starting with Cunningham's second place finish. She threw 11.96m (39ft-3in) to earn her place.
Justin Odom (Williamsburg, Va./Menchville) threw 11.89m (39ft-0.25in), a .24 meter PR, to earn himself eight place. Banks threw 10.28m (33ft-8.75in), also a PR.
"I'm really happy for this group," said Associate Coach Erick Camodeca. "All the hard work is really starting to pay off for this group. You can see a lot of excitement building up. It's a great start to a new beginning for this program."
The team will be back in action next Saturday, March 30, at the Doc Jopson Invitational hosted by Bridgewater College.
-- by Elizabeth Nisly, EMU Sports Information Writing Intern