RICHMOND, Va. – This weekend, VCU competes in the Atlantic 10 Indoor Track & Field Championships taking place at the University of Rhode Island's Mackal Field House in Kingston, R.I. The meet will span Saturday, Feb. 17 and Sunday, Feb. 18.
The preliminary sprint races will take place on Saturday along with the pole vault, long jump, and weight throw. Things continue Sunday morning with the women's high jump beginning at 9 a.m.
VCU has a wide variety of athletes that are capable of scoring in different areas. Head Coach Jon Riley believes the team is prepared to succeed in each event they compete in. "We are prepared to do well in every event. The question is, do we have the debt to win? Every athlete, every event will impact our success this weekend," Riley said.
An area in which VCU has found success in during recent years is the triple jump. The women's triple jump is set to begin Sunday at 12:30 p.m. After taking home the gold in the 2017 indoor and outdoor championships, senior Taylor McCormick will look to earn a top finish once again. McCormick's 12.33m is currently the top mark in the Atlantic 10, as well as a school record. Freshman Aliyah Newman also looks to score in the triple jump as her 11.86m mark is third in the conference.
As for the sprints, junior Latrice Morris holds the second spot in the Atlantic 10 with her 7.64 60-meter dash. During last year's conference championship Morris and teammate Alexis Willis grabbed the top two spots in the race, each with a time of 7.65.
Sophomore Kayla Smith earned gold in the 400m and a bronze in the 200m in 2017. The sophomore currently holds a top-four conference spot in both of those events. Another sophomore looking to do damage this weekend is thrower Makayla McGowan. McGowan placed eighth in the shot put as a freshman but has since improved by nearly 1.5m, helping her win the event at the 2018 Father Diamond Invitational.
Another thrower to watch for is senior Ashleigh Banks, who took fourth in the weight throw at the indoor championships in 2017. She went on to win the event during the outdoor conference championship. This season, Banks set a new personal best with a 16.76m mark and is ranked second in the conference.
On the men's side, senior Kareem Payne is going for gold in the 60-meter dash after coming in second place in 2017. Like McCormick, Payne set a VCU record this season with a 6.76 time and sits alone atop the conference. Junior Jamik Alexander will also be looking to claim a top spot in the 60-meter as he's currently tied for third in the Atlantic 10.
Freshman standout Xyan Xrichardson ranks fourth in the conference in the high jump with a personal best 2.03m mark. Xrichardson already has a first place finish earlier this season at the Towson Tiger Invite.
VCU's teams have found a lot of success in recent years, especially with the women's team winning three championships since the 2015 indoor season. Riley believes that much of their success is due to a culture of performing well in big meets. "The coaches do a really good job of getting our athletes to perform above and beyond their potential at championship meets," Riley said.