EMU Track & Field Teams Tuned For ODAC Championships

Derrick Chirinos (left) and Justice Allen (center) each ran their first steeplechase race of the year. (photo by Scott Eyre)
Derrick Chirinos (left) and Justice Allen (center) each ran their first steeplechase race of the year. (photo by Scott Eyre)

The Eastern Mennonite University track & field team was scattered across Virginia this Saturday, April 13.

"We sent a handful of athletes to two meets today in order to fine tune for next week's ODACs," said Head Coach Bob Hepler.

A group of jumpers and sprinters went to compete at the George Mason Spring Invitational, while a crew of distance runners, primarily steeplechasers, ventured to the WildCat Invitational hosted by Randolph College.

While only a few athletes competed, it was a day studded with stellar performances.

Highlights include Megan Good (Harrisonburg, Va./Eastern Mennonite) running the third-fastest steeplechase time in EMU history on her first attempt, Justice Allen (Waynesboro, Va./Waynesboro) winning the men's steeplechase with a 30 second PR, and Alijah Johnson (Upper Marlboro, Md./Frederick Douglass) running his first sub-50 second 400.

Times were fast and legs were speedy at the George Mason Spring Invitational. Michaela Chowning (Urbanna, Va./Middlesex) ran the 400 meter dash in a time of 1:00.64, holding her own in a field of mixed D-III through D-I competitors.

Johnson had a tremendous 400, running a time of 49.81 to jump up to No. 7 on the EMU Top-10 list in the event. Coy Jimenez (Edinburg, Va./Central) also performed well, running 52.27.

Johnson ran the 200 as well, clocking in at 22.24.

"Alijah and Coy accomplished their goal of improving their times in the 400 heading into ODACs," said Associate Coach Erick Camodeca. "Alijah continues to impress and improve every weekend, dipping below the 50 second barrier in the 400 and remaining consistent in the 200."

Grant Amoateng (Bristow, Va./Patriot) earned fifth place in the triple jump, with a final distance of 14.05 meters. He was the top D-III competitor at the meet.

Danielle Spears (Herndon, Va./South Lakes) competed in the triple jump as well, leaping 10.00 meters.

Chowning took fifth in the high jump competition with her leap of 1.51 meters.

"Michaela, Grant, and Danielle continue to put out solid consistent numbers," said Coach Camodeca. "We are excited to see what will happen next week at ODACs."

The distance crew was busy as well, making a statement at the WildCat Invitational.

Good's race was first. The steeplechase is a 3000 meter-long event, combining endurance running with hurdling prowess. Good, in her first ever steeplechase competition, took the barriers in stride, coming in second place. Her time of 12:32 vaults her to No. 3 in the EMU Top-10 list..

"We are very proud of her," said Coach Hepler. He suggested she take it easy for the first mile. "About the 1600 meter mark it was like a wild gazelle had been suddenly unleashed onto the open plains, gobbling up the land with each long powerful stride. I was truly impressed."

The men ran next. EMU runners made up the entire field. Allen won with a 30-second PR of 10:05, moving up two spots on the EMU Top-10 list. Derrick Chirinos (Harrisonburg, Va./Harrisonburg), also racing steeplechase for the first time, came in second with a time of 11:06.

Freshman Charles Thornton (Hamilton, Va./Loudoun Valley) tried his hand at the 800 meter race, crossing the finish in 2:13.

"A very productive day indeed!" declared Coach Hepler.

All of this excitement is coming just a week before the ODAC meet, hosted by Randolph College this Friday and Saturday.

-- by Elizabeth Nisly, EMU Sports Information Writing Intern