Underclassmen Lead The Way In First Track Meet

Alijah Johnson was one of the top runners in all three of his events. (photo by Scott Eyre)
Alijah Johnson was one of the top runners in all three of his events. (photo by Scott Eyre)

The EMU track & field teams opened up their indoor campaign this weekend, participating at the two-day Bast-Cregger Invitational at Roanoke College. The Royals had a number of notable performances, displaying their talented young core.

Alijah Johnson (Upper Marlboro, Md./Frederick Douglass) proved ready to build on his first season, starting his sophomore year with a win in the 300m. He finished just ahead of a pair of D-II runners in the event, topping a field of 17 with his time of 36.38. Later on Saturday, he grabbed the silver in the 200m clocking at 22.62. Johnson also qualified for the semifinals of the 60m but did not compete further.

Tahira Bakare (Washington, DC/Archbishop Carroll) was fourth overall, and the top freshman, in the women's 200m. She was also second among D-III finishers at 27.18. Out of 44 women in the 60m dash, Bakare advanced in the top eight, but did not start in the finals.

After an All-ODAC Second Team effort in the discus last spring, sophomore Cor'shauna Cunningham (Strasburg, Va./Warren County) made her first collegiate indoor appearance. She was sixth overall in the shot put, and fourth among D-III competitors, at 10.45m. She was also eight among D-III women in the weight throw at 9.98m.

One of Friday's highlights was junior Justice Allen (Waynesboro, Va./Waynesboro) taking fourth in the 5000m at 16:15.60. His split of 32.74 over the final 500m was the best of any of the 20 runners and got him within a half step of third place at the finish line.

Freshman Caleb Wright (Luray, Va./Luray) had a fantastic debut for Eastern Mennonite. He was sixth overall in the high jump on Friday, clearing 1.78m, and then was the top first year athlete in the long jump at 6.00m. He was second among D-III men in the 300m with a time of 38.15.

After a successful cross country season, Isaac Alderfer (Broadway, Va./Broadway) made his first appearance in track & field by taking second place overall in the mile. He won his heat in 4:38.53. Alderfer missed last track season studying off campus for his cross cultural program at EMU. Freshman Jansen Miller (Lancaster, Pa./Lampeter-Strasburg) also won his heat and was ninth overall. The Royals claimed five of the top ten D-III finishers in the event.

Miller was then fourth overall in the 600m at 1:31.60, followed in 0.08 by Dawson Woodruff (Fairfax Station, Va./James W. Robinson Jr.).

Wade Banks (Basye, Va./Stonewall Jackson) was third among the D-III men in the heptathlon. He finished with 3294 points and had the best D-III mark in the shot put and high jump.

Freshman Ashlyn Eby (Annandale, Va./St. Paul VI Catholic) was fourth out of D-III women in the 60m hurdles. She finished ninth overall and just missed the finals with a time of 9.85.

This meet was also the final one for Associate Coach Erick Camodeca who announced last month he will become the head track & field and cross country coach at his alma mater, Goucher College.

The Royals now get a break between semesters, but return the indoor season in earnest with the Kaye and JJ Smith Invitational hosted by Shenandoah University on Sunday, January 12.

Bast-Cregger Invitational

Top 10 Finishes among D-III athletes (overall finish):
200m: Alijah Johnson, 2nd (2nd) – 22.62
300m: Alijah Johnson, 1st (1st) – 36.38; Caleb Wright, 2nd (5th) – 38.15; Conrad Yoder, 10th (14th) – 43.68
600m: Jansen Miller, 3rd (4th) – 1:31.60; Dawson Woodruff, 4th (5th) – 1:31.68
Mile: Isaac Alderfer, 2nd (2nd) – 4:38.53; Jansen Miller, 6th (9th) – 4:49.29; Justice Allen, 7th (10th) – 4:49.85; Clay Kauffman, 9th (12th) – 4:58.75; Nate Yoder, 10th (13th) – 4:59.30
5000m: Justice Allen, 4th (4th) – 16:15.60
High Jump: Caleb Wright, 5th (6th) – 1.78m (5ft-10in)
Long Jump: Caleb Wright, 4th (8th) – 6.00m (19ft-8.25in)
Heptathlon: Wade Banks, 3rd (7th) – 3294 points

EMU Women
Top 10 Finishes among D-III athletes (overall finish):
200m: Tahira Bakare, 2nd (4th) – 27.18; Kendra Oguamena, 9th (15th) – 28.70
300m: Aaliyah Lawhorne, 9th (15th) – 55.16
60m hurdles: Ashlyn Eby, 4th (9th) – 9.85; Jasmine Shelton, 9th (17th) – 11.56
High Jump: Jordan Jones, 9th (11th) – 1.45m (4ft-9in)
Long Jump: Ashlyn Eby, 9th (16th) – 4.55m (14ft-11.25in)
Shot Put: Cor'shauna Cunningham, 4th (6th) – 10.45m (34ft-3.50in)

Coach Bob Hepler said:
A solid start to the year. This meet is meant to get the team excited about Christmas training in preparation for the spring. Mission accomplished! This is a wonderful and hard-working team. Coach Cam has built a winning culture. He will be missed by all, but his positive presence will be felt for years to come.