McNeese distance runners prevail at LSU, Rice meets

McNeese distance runners prevail at LSU, Rice meets

BATON ROUGE – In its final tune-up before the Southland Conference Outdoor Track and Field Championships, McNeese went up against some of the best in the nation on Saturday at the LSU Alumni Gold and posted some impressive outings while a handful of Cowboy runners competed at the Rice Fred Duckett Twilight meet.

At Rice, Miguel Berrera-Lopez won the men’s 5,000-meters with a personal record time of 14:39.07, ranking as the fourth-fastest time in the Southland Conference this season. Aaron Gilliam, in running the event for the first time, finished fifth with a time of 14:55.13 and Daniel Saina placed eighth with a time of 15:11.42, also posting a PR.

At LSU, Cowboy runner Brian Flanagan started the day off for the Cowboys with a win in the 3000-meter steeplechase with a personal best time of 9:09.16, Flanagan will move up to third in the Southland Conference with his time while the run was the fastest time for a Cowboy since Christoph Graf set the school record back in 2017 at the league championship meet.

“I was very pleaded to get a great run in today,” said Flanagan. “It was a huge boost for me mentally after struggling all fall, even missing the cross-country season due to injury. I was taught by an old Irish coach that distance running is 49% what you have in your legs and 51% what’s in your head. This spring, I knew I’d built up the adequate fitness to match and even beat rivals. But with this new PR today, it has given me the confidence in myself that my best days are most definitely still in front of me going into the conference meet in two weeks. It’s a great day to be a Cowboy!”

Cowgirl runner Marta Lukijaniuk followed Flanagan’s stellar run with a personal best run of her own, running 11:24.83 and placing her second in the competition. Jordan Waine followed Lukijaniuk, finishing third with a personal best of 11:32.05. Jessica Fox finished sixth overall in the competition. Lukijaniuk will move up to sixth place in the Southland Conference and Waine will be ranked ninth.

In the women’s long jump, Carli McDonald and Heaven Terrell placed high overall with McDonald finishing second with a mark of 18-8 and Terrell third at 18-6.5. Both Cowgirls hold scoring positions with teammate Grace McKenzie going into the conference meet.

In the 5000-meter run, senior Cowgirl Gladys Jerotich ran a personal best of 17:16.86 to place second in the event. Alissa Lander also ran a personal best in the event, running 18:01.77, placing her fifth. The Cowgirls now hold the two top spots in the Southland Conference in the event, with Jerotich passing teammate Alex Eykelbosch for the top mark in the conference.

Sophomore hurdler Rachel Woods finished 10th out of 40 competitors in her section of the 100-meter hurdles, running a personal best time of 14.48. She remains ranked 12th in the Southland.

Veteran sprinter Tyler Smith won the 200-meter dash with a time of 21.07 seconds, the fourth-fastest mark of his career. He currently holds onto the number six spot in the conference rankings.

In the women’s triple jump, three freshman Cowgirls finished in the top eight. Malaiya Jedkins led the way, finishing fifth with a jump of 38-6.75. Morgan Talley and Shaelyn Hines followed in seventh and eight place respectively with jumps of 38-2 and 37-8.5. Talley and Jedkins continue to hold on to top 10 rankings in the Southland.

In the men’s triple jump, Nemanja Koviljac finished fourth overall with a leap of 48-3.25. The jump marks the fourth-longest of his career as he continues to hold onto the No. 5 ranking in the league.

In the 800-meter run, Shania Anthony, in running the event for just the second time, posted a personal best of 2:17.03 to place her sixth overall. That time moves up to the 10tj spot in the league rankings.

The team of Jedkins, Aleyah Donald, Victoria Pierson, and Taneisha Allen finished seventh overall in the 4x100-meter relay with a time of 46.26. The event featured elite schools such as Arkansas, LSU, and Clemson who all ran in the same heat as the Cowgirls.

Cowgirl standout Alanna Arvie competed in the shot put and the hammer throw at the meet, where she finished eight and ninth respectively. The Cowgirl remains in scoring position for the shot put, the javelin throw, and the hammer throw where she is the top ranked thrower.

Senior runner Niall Holt competed in the A section of the 1500-meter run where he finished ninth overall, running a personal best time of 3:56.44. Holt moves up to the 11th spot in the conference while Flanagan is ranked eighth.

Tyler Syrie ran the third fastest time of his career at 10.58 in the 100-meters to finish ninth overall in a field that featured athletes from Team Canada.

In the 200-meter dash, Syrie ran the second-fastest time of his career at 21.50 while running against one of the best athletes in the NCAA in Grant Holloway as well as U.S. Olympian Vernon Norwood.

The women’s 4x400 meter team of Anthony, Pierson, Allen, and Destiny Johnson ran a season best time of 4:52.69 seconds to move them into the No. 7 spot in the conference.

The men’s 4x400 meter relay team wrapped up the day with a season best time of 3:15.35.

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