BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (UCFAthletics.com) - An individual champion, a C-USA meet record, multiple school records and dominating performances in the sprints helped put the No. 10 UCF track and field team in good position after day one of the Conference USA Indoor Championship. The Knights are three points shy of leader Memphis heading into the final day of competition.
Junior Jen Clayton set the tone by earning her first C-USA individual championship title, taking the top spot at the podium for the long jump with a leap of 6.06m/19-10.75. She led three Knights who scored points in the event as senior Sonnisha Williams clinched fifth place (5.86m/19-02.75) and freshman Alexis Faulknor (5.78m/18-11.75) finished seventh.
Junior Aurieyall Scott made noise in the 200 meters with performance that broke a 6-year-old C-USA meet record. This year's world leader paced three Knights who advanced to Sunday's finals with a time of 23.28 to maintain her undefeated season.
Octavious Freeman led her heat with the second-fastest overall time of 23.36, which also bested the previous meet record and ranks as her best time of the season. Faulknor qualified for the finals, too, by trimming time off her personal best for the fastest time of her heat, 24.21. Although she didn't advance to the finals, Lutisha Bowen jetted to a new personal-record time of 24.41 to clinch her heat.
Coming as no surprise, UCF cleaned up in the 60 meters, clinching five spots in Sunday's 8-competitor final. Scott matched her season-best 7.20 - which still ranks fifth in the country -- for the fastest time of the day.
She was followed closely by Freeman, who dashed to the best time of her heat at 7.25. Christal Peterson matched her season-best 7.45 for the second-fastest time of her heat and fourth-best time overall. Bowen recorded a new personal-best 7.47 for the second-quickest time of her heat and fifth overall while Faulknor matched her personal-record 7.49 to clinch the last finals berth.
Three Knights recorded new personal bests while all scoring points in the weight throw.
Precious Ogunleye had a tremendous performance with a school-record mark of 19.09m/62-07.75 for fifth place. Junior Destinee Romain finished in seventh place at 18.53m/60-09.50 to score her first points at a conference indoor championship meet. Kalen Hambrick added one point in eighth place with a toss of 17.96m/58-11.25.
Freshman Anne-Marie Blaney added the 5000-meter school record to her already lengthy record-breaking resume with a bronze finish 16:41.65. The time erased an 11-year-old program record and rewrote her freshman record from earlier this season. Classmate Heather Classe topped her personal record in the event with a time of 17:46.58.
Bowen shined in the 60 hurdles, claiming the fastest qualifying time with a personal-best 8.18 for the seventh-fastest time in the country.
In the 800 meters, Ne'Ausha Logan clinched the fastest time of her heat and barely missed the fastest qualifying time overall by two-hundredths of a second at 2:10.98. Junior Erica Winston also automatically qualified with the second-fastest time of her heat and fourth-fastest time overall at 2:11.23.
Along with Sandy Jean and Cody Castillo, the pair helped the distance medley relay team score points with a seventh-place time of 12:06.14.
Junior Afia Charles blew away the competition in her heat of the 400 meters with the day's fastest qualifying time overall, 54.83. She bested the runner-up in her race by nearly three seconds.
Senior Erica Weiss contributed points in the pole vault with a seventh-place outing of 3.59m/11-09.25.
Action resumes Sunday at noon with the high jump. The Knights are aiming to win their fifth conference championship since 2010. Live results will be available via Flash Results.