FAIRFAX, Va. - The VCU Women's Track & Field program fell just shy of earning its first-ever CAA Track & Field Championship, as James Madison narrowly edged out the Rams for the conference crown.
The Dukes posted 132 points on the way to their first CAA title, while VCU finished shortly behind with 126.5 points. Georgia State finished third with 122 points, followed by George Mason (98.5), Delaware (96), UNCW (68), Towson (60.5), William & Mary (57.5) and Northeastern (57).
It was the highest finish by the VCU Women's Track & Field program since 2005, when the Rams also garnered a second place finish.
"I'm so proud of both squads," said VCU head coach Jon Riley. "Everyone on the team, trainers, massage therapist, strength coach, GA's and volunteer assistants worked tirelessly this weekend to help the athletes perform to their absolute best. We had a number of personal and seasonal best and everyone chipped in whether or not they scored in the meet. Today, we became the team I've always envisioned."
While the Rams may not have picked up the top honor, redshirt sophomore Jaleesa Williams was named the CAA Co-Field Most Outstanding Performer at the championships. The Virginia Beach, Va., native took the shot put title with a mark of 14.58m and posted the second best CAA meet throw ever in discus at 49.01 meters. Williams also posted a third-place finish in women's hammer throw, with a heave of 48.62 meters.
"Jaleesa has had the ambition of being top field performer in mind for a long time," added Riley. "She put in a lot of hard work and was able to capitalize on her goals. I couldn't be more proud of her for all her efforts this weekend and how she has contributed to the team's success."
The Rams continued to rack up points in field events. The Rams had a pair of student-athletes earn four place honors, in redshirt sophomore Jessica Williams (shot put – 13.04) and senior Brandy Preston (discus - 48.55 meters). Senior Julia Anyaugo grabbed sixth place honors in the discus, with her toss of 46.45 meters.
The Rams saw a school record fall in the 4x100 meter relay, as the team crossed the finish line in 45.20 seconds, narrowly eclipsing the previous school record of 45.27 seconds. The relay was made up of freshman Alexis Stroman, freshman Kiara Porter, senior Jazlynn Finney and junior Dionna Hayes.
Porter made a strong first impression at her first CAA Championship, earning a pair of All-CAA honors with two top-three finishes. The Yorktown, Va., native won the preliminaries of the women's 400 meter dash on Friday afternoon with a time of 53.60, which broke a school record, then improved her time on Saturday. Porter crossed the finish line in 53.24 on her way to a first place finish. Porter also came in the third in the women's 200 meter dash, crossing the finish line in 24.16 seconds.
Redshirt sophomore Chaneka Perry made a triumphant return to the CAA Championships, after sitting out the 2011 season. Perry placed second in the triple jump, leaping 12.43 meters, which broke her own school record in the event. Perry also picked up points for the Rams in the 100 meter hurdles, as she garnered a seventh place finish in the event, with a time of 14.50 seconds. Stroman came in fifth place in the same event, with a time of 14.23 seconds.
The 4x400 meter relay squad came in second in the event, with Finney, freshman Amethyst Polk, Grasty and Porter combining for a time of 3:42.57.
In her final CAA Championship, redshirt senior Stephanie Newing placed fourth in the pole vault, clearing 3.70 meters.
Finney picked up fourth place honors in the long jump with a jump of 5.92 meters, while sophomore Shanita Glenn came in fifth in the women's high jump with leap of 1.60 meters.
The Rams had a pair of student-athletes finish in the top ten in the 100 meter dash, with Hayes coming in fourth (11.81 seconds) and freshman Nicole Grasty coming in sixth (12.04 seconds).
Seniors Rachel Montague and Nicole Walters each grabbed a seventh place finish in their final CAA Championship. Montague in the 400 meter hurdles (1:04.42) and Walters in the 800 meter run (2:14.91).