March 14, 2009
COLLEGE STATION, Texas (www.ucfathletics.com) - All three UCF athletes that competed on day two of the NCAA Indoor Championships collected All-American honors as the Knights finished in a tie for 35th and closed out their indoor season Saturday at the Gilliam Indoor Track Stadium on the campus of Texas A&M University. Senior Dione Thomas (Jacksonville, Fla.), junior Tiki James (Miami, Fla.) and freshman Jackie Coward (Knoxville, Tenn.) each finished in the top 10 Americans of their events to gain the distinction of NCAA All-Americans.
With six points on the day, UCF tied for 35th at the meet, the first time in the program's history it has earned a team score and placed at the NCAA Indoor Championships. Tennessee finished the championships with 42 points to claim the national title by five points over host Texas A&M. UCF was also the highest finishing Conference USA school in the meet.
"It was a historic weekend for our program. To have three student-athletes qualify for nationals and to get three All-Americans is just absolutely monumental," said head coach Caryl Smith Gilbert. "I am extremely excited about the performance."
In the 60-meter hurdles, James and Coward became the first UCF athletes to score points in the NCAA Indoor Championships, finishing in fifth and seventh respectively in the finals of the event. James, a junior, crossed the line in 8.20 seconds to take fifth place and earn four points. Coward concluded an impressive freshman indoor campaign with a time of 8.34. She took seventh place and earned two points for the Knights.
In the triple jump, Thomas did not make the finals but still gained NCAA All-American honors with a strong performance. The senior used a mark of 42-2.75/12.87m to tie for tenth in the event.
"Dione did a great job holding her composure in her first appearance at nationals," said Smith Gilbert. "For Jackie Coward
to handle the pressure as a freshman and be the only freshman to qualify for the finals is tremendous and shows a lot about her abilities. Tiki James
has been very consistent for us all season. For her to come back from an injury that forced her to miss numerous practices prior to the conference meet and hold it together mentally makes me excited about her outdoor season."
With the indoor season in the books, UCF will turn its attention to the outdoor campaign, which gets underway next Saturday at home as Texas, Florida and Bethune-Cookman come to Oralndo for the Black & Gold Challenge at the UCF track and field complex. The meet will also serve as senior day for the Knights.
"I look forward to the outdoor season, and I think this will show the rest of the team we are heading in the right direction as a national caliber team," said Smith Gilbert. "I am very proud of these All-Americans, the team and our entire staff."
For the latest news on the Knights, log on to www.UCFAthletics.com - the official site for UCF varsity sports. The site, which also contains ticket and Golden Knights Club donor information, is also the home of UCF's new online apparel store. Also visit www.UCFPhotos.com, the exclusive fan source for UCF action sports pictures.
NCAA Indoor Championships
McFerrin Athletic Center - College Station, Texas
Saturday, March 14
60-meter hurdles (finals)
5. Tiki James - 8.20
7. Jackie Coward - 8.34
t10. Dione Thomas, 42-2.75/12.87m
1. Tennessee, 42
2. Texas A&M, 27
3. BYU, 33
4. Texas, 31
5. Arizona State, 30
6. LSU, 28
7. Penn State, 24
8. Florida State, 23
T9. Texas Tech, 21
T9. Oregon, 21
T35. UCF, 6