EMU's track & field teams sent a handful of athletes to Lynchburg on Wednesday for the Liberty Last Chance Meet. The seniors stood out, highlighted by triple jumper Grant Amoateng (Bristow, Va./Patriot) sticking a new PR and virtually locking up a third consecutive trip to outdoor nationals in the event.
Amoateng had already landed a few solid jumps over 14 meters before he put together his best on his sixth and final attempt. The senior landed at 14.80m (48ft-6.75in) to jump to No. 4 in the nation in the event. He was the top D-III competitor at the meet and came less than two inches away from the winner from D-I Liberty. Before Wednesday, Amoateng's best of the season had been 14.43m (47ft-4.25in), while his personal best jump was 14.71m (48ft-3.25in) from last year. Michael Allen barely hung onto the EMU record of 14.85m (48ft-8.75in).
"A huge weight has been lifted off of both Grant and my shoulders," explained Associate Coach Erick Camodeca. "Conferences left us both feeling stress, disappointed, and not knowing if he had anything left in the tank. This past weekend showed a little sign. Tonight was emotional for both us. He really put it together. He reminded me of my saying 'trust the training and process' and his trust led him to tonight's success."
Junior Jamel Howard (Leesburg, Va./Tuscarora) won the high jump at 1.95m (6ft-4.75in). However, he failed to improve his season best mark of 2.02m (6ft-7.5in) and sits precariously tied for No. 21 in the nation. Wade Banks (Basye, Va./Mount Jackson) was the second D-III finisher at the meet, clearing 1.80m (5ft-10.75in).
Banks also ran in the 400m hurdles, crossing in :59.59.
Michaela Chowning (Urbanna, Va./Middlesex) competed in the women's high jump and cleared 1.54m (5ft-0.5in). Based on jumps, she finished fourth overall despite being only one height behind the winner. Chowning still looks good to qualify for the NCAA National Championships with her season best height of 1.69m (5ft-6.5in), good for No. 6 in the nation.
In the track events, Justice Allen (Waynesboro, Va./Waynesboro) won the 3000m steeplechase with a time of 10:27.96. He beat the nearest competitor by more than 30 seconds.
Senior Derrick Chirinos (Harrisonburg, Va./Harrisonburg) broke his PR in the 800m run, coming in at 2:06.31. He nudged his previous best race of 2:06.33. Laurie Serrell (Harrisonburg, Va./Harrisonburg) also finished with a new mark, eclipsing her season best in the 800m by more than three seconds. Serrell crossed in 2:24.39 as the top D-III runner, beating her best mark of the season of 2:27.79.
Freshman Alijah Johnson (Upper Marlboro, Md./Frederick Douglass) ran a 51.43 in the 400m dash.
"Seeing the connection between Grant and Coach Cam tonight was inspiring for all of us," said Coach Bob Hepler. "A top coach and great athlete working together to achieve athletic greatness is like viewing a beautiful art piece! I can't wait to see what Grant does at the NCAA meet. Also, watching Derrick and Laurie compete for the last time made me sad to see them finish and grateful for their loyalty and leadership."
After a break in meets, the Royals will send a smaller group to the VCU Ram Invitational on Sunday, May 12, followed by the SWAT Last Chance Meet in Swarthmore, Pa., on Monday, May 13.