BLACK & GOLD BREAK INTO 2012 WITH A NUMBER OF PERSONAL BESTS

FAIRFAX, Va. – The VCU Men's & Women's Track & Field program started off 2012 with a bang at the Father Diamond Invitational hosted by the George Mason University on Saturday.

The Rams had three athletes garner first-place finishes, including one that qualified for IC4A Indoor Championships, not to mention a relay squad that shattered a school record.

"I am proud of both men's and women's team for coming back in shape after the long holiday break," said VCU Head Coach Jon Riley. "This group has been dedicated from day one and I have a good feeling we will see some remarkable things this year."

The women's 4x800 relay made up of freshman Niema Eaves, freshman Jazmine Wright, senior Heather DelaCruz and senior Nicole Walters shattered a school record in the event as the crossed the finish line in 9:34.38. The time earned them a third place finish overall, plus broke the program record set in 2009. DelaCruz and Walters were both part of that relay team, that finished in 9:48.13.  

"Coach Cook and I believe this is a group that has the chance to break the record every time they run this race this season," added Riley.

VCU junior Frank Afriyie (pictured, right) won the men's weight throw with a toss of 16.88 meters. That toss earned Afriyie a spot at the IC4A Indoor Championships in March, as it cleared the qualifying mark of 16.80 meters.

"We expect big things from Frank, and he did not let us down tonight," added Riley. "He got us started with the first win of the day. Coach Tussing said that it took him a little while to get comfortable for us in the circle, but when he did, he began to unleash the weight, like he did tonight."

Redshirt sophomore Chaneka Perry finished in first place in the women's high jump, clearing 1.62 meters. Freshman Sarah Fulgham also participated in the event and cleared 1.52 meters, good enough for sixth place.  

Perry showed her versatility at the meet, also competing in the 60-meter hurdles and earning herself a third place overall, but tops among collegiate competition. Perry crossed the line in 9.05 seconds; she was joined in the finals by teammates Rachel Montague (eighth – 9.27 seconds) and Nneka Ogwu (ninth – 9.32 seconds).  

Senior Jazlynn Finney won the women's long jump with a leap of 5.59 meters. Finney was joined in the top 10 in the long jump by teammates Niaimani Aduma (fourth – 5.40 meters) and Fulgham (ninth – 4.98 meters).

Senior Brandy Preston grabbed a second place finish in the women's weight throw, as her heave landed 15.54 meters past the starting line. Redshirt sophomore Jaleesa Williams came in fourth place in the same event, with her toss landing 13.85 meters.

Sophomore Justine Dutton (pictured, left) set a new personal record in the women's pole vault with a cleared distance of 3.45 meters. Redshirt-senior Stephanie Newing followed one spot behind with a vault of 3.30 meters.

For the VCU men, freshman sprinter Darius Vaughn turned in a pair of impressive performances in the 200 meter and 400 meter dash. The Chesapeake, Va., native came in fifth in the 200 meters in a time of 22.82 seconds and ninth in the 400 with a time of 51.54 seconds.

The Rams next competition is scheduled for Saturday, January 14th at the 2012 Navy Invite.

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