RICHMOND, Va. – The VCU Men's & Women's track & field didn't have to pack their bags for this weekend's meet, as the team made the short trip across town for the 2012 Fred Hardy Invitational at University of Richmond.

Friday marked the first day of competition at the two-day event, with 18 events taking place on Friday.

"We got off to a good start today with some solid performances and a number of PR's," said VCU head coach Jon Riley. "The coaches are doing a great job getting these athletes ready to perform."

VCU senior pole vaulter Stephanie Newing matched her previous school record in the pole vault, clearing 3.55 meters, a height she previously reached in 2010. The Virginia Beach, Va., native tied for a fourth place finish in the event.

"Stephanie has been working extremely hard this year," said VCU assistant coach Allyson Thomas. "We have been working on cleaning up some little things and I see more great things for her in her final season here."

Freshman Brandon Ruffin continued his recent surge of success, putting together the top performance among all collegiate completion in the men's shot put. The Chesapeake, Va., native came in second overall, placing behind an unattached competitor, with a heave of 15.97 meters. The toss was good enough to qualify Ruffin for the IC4A Outdoor Championships later this spring.

Junior thrower Frank Afriyie placed in third in the men's hammer throw, with a heave of 50.65 meters.

VCU senior thrower Brandy Preston earned herself a third place finish in the women's hammer throw, with a toss of 49.03 meters.

Redshirt sophomore Jaleesa Williams just missed out on qualifying for the ECAC Outdoor Championships in the women's shot put. Williams' toss of 13.58 meters, was just shy of the 13.60 qualifying mark.  

Redshirt sophomore Chaneka Perry earned herself a spot at ECACs in the triple jump, with a qualifying jump of 12.11 meters. The Newport News, Va., native came in third place in the event, while teammate Jennifer McAvoy placed fourth (11.74 meters).

Junior mid-distance runner Alex Hinton earned a fifth place finish in the 1500 meter run, crossing the finish line in 3:56.30.

The Rams captured a third and fourth place finish in the men's 5000 meter run, with Brenden Leavitt (15:17.33) and John Vial (15:26.79) leading the charge for the Black & Gold.

The second and final day of the Fred Hardy Invitational is scheduled for Saturday, with the first event taking place at 9 a.m.