Finishing Strong

May 4, 2014

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By Andy Seeley

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TAMPA, Fla. ( - The UCF women's track and field team went out with a bang Sunday afternoon at the American Athletic Conference Championship, held at the USF Track & Field Stadium.

The Knights had already wrapped up a runner-up finish and could not catch champion SMU heading into the final race of the day - the 4x400-meter relay. But none of that mattered to Sandy Jean, Jen Clayton, Ashley Jocelyn and Afia Charles. That quartet went out and delivered one of the more stirring performances of the championship.

Sandy Jean set the pace, holding the early lead. Jen Clayton had the Knights in striking distance, but in third, on the second leg. Ashley Jocelyn pulled the Knights into second place with a strong kick. Then, Afia Charles took the baton.

Charles trailed UConn's Nyanka Joseph by more than 10 meters at the exchange. She trailed by roughly 20 meters on the back stretch, but made up considerable ground on the final turn. Coming down the home stretch, Charles gave everything she had and edged Joseph at the line, winning by just .24 seconds. Their time of 3:32.59 was a school record and also set a new stadium mark.

"The only thing I was thinking was this isn't about me, it's about my team," Charles said. "When I saw her break down, I was like `OK, it's time. Let's go get her.'"

For the Knights, it was the fitting end to the day. UCF entered the final day of competition trailing SMU by 70 points. But the Knights put up more than 100 points and picked up five gold medals Sunday.

"We started the day with 38 points and scored 100 today. I could not be prouder of the young ladies here," UCF head coach Jeanette Bolden said. "To have a school record. To have somebody like Afia Charles anchoring the (relay) team. I wouldn't put the stick in anyone else's hands but her. If I had to anchor anybody, it would be Afia Charles."

Charles also had one of the Knights' other first-place finishes Sunday. She edged UConn's Celina Emerson by .03 seconds in the 400-meter dash with a time of 52.77 seconds.

Freshman J'Nea Bellamy had a strong first conference meet. She won the 200-meter dash in a personal-record time of 23.38 seconds and also took second in the 100-meter dash. Bellamy was also a key member of the championship-winning 4x100-meter relay team. Bellamy, Clayton, Briana Vaughn and Christal Peterson turned in a stadium record time of 44.87 seconds for the victory in the relay.

"I feel really good. I accomplished all the things I wanted to accomplish," Bellamy said. "I'm just really happy the team came together and did what we had to do to get second place. It's not first place, but we still came together and made an impact. We just kept fighting and kept fighting."

UCF's other gold medal was captured by Sandy Jean, who was also involved in a thrilling finish. Jean led virtually the entire way in the 400 hurdles and held off a late charge by Houston's Sade Greenidge. Jean's winning time of 57.87 was just .03 seconds better than Greenidge.

In all, the Knights put together six personal bests Sunday, including the school record in the 4x400. Erica Winston's second-place time of 2:06.86 in the 800 and Caroline Pauls' mark of 2:11.34 was also a PR. Amelia Williams took seventh place in the 1500 with a personal-best time of 4:36.35. Jocelyn's time of 54.03 seconds in the 400-meter dash was good enough for seventh place and a personal record.

Sunday Results at The American Outdoor Championships
Tampa, Fla. - USF Track & Field Stadium

100 Meters
2. J'Nea Bellamy - 11.59 (0.5)
3. Briana Vaughn - 11.65 (0.5)
8. Christal Peterson - 12.64 (0.5)
200 Meters
1. J'Nea Bellamy - 23.38 (0.4) - PR
5. Afia Charles - 23.93 (0.4)
7. Christal Peterson - 25.51 (0.4)
8. Briana Vaughn - 25.88
400 Meters
1. Afia Charles - 52.77
7. Ashley Jocelyn - 54.03 - PR
800 Meters
2. Erica Winston - 2:06.86 - PR
4. Caroline Pauls - 2:11.34 - PR
8. Amelia Williams - 2:19.82 - PR
1500 Meters
7. Amelia Williams - 4:36.35 - PR
100 Hurdles
3. Devinn Cartwright - 13.97 (-1.6)
7. Lia King - 14.86 (-1.6)
400 Hurdles
1. Sandy Jean - 57.87
4x100 Relay
1. UCF - J'Nea Bellamy, Jen Clayton, Briana Vaughn, Christal Peterson - 44.87
4x400 Relay
1. UCF - Sandy Jean, Jen Clayton, Ashley Jocelyn, Afia Charles - 3:32.59 - SR (Season-high)
High Jump
T7. Allison Lampert - 1.65m/5-05.00
Triple Jump
7. Jen Clayton - 11.82m/38-09.5 (0.5)
11. Lia King - 11.35m/37-03 (-0.8)



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