May 3, 2014
TAMPA, Fla. – Saija Bikanova led the Huskies on day two at the American Athletic Conference Championship on Saturday in Florida. The junior finished with 5,203 points in the heptathlon to grab third place and win six points for Connecticut.
Through nine scored events, UConn has accumulated 29 points and sits in fifth place headed into the final day of competition on Sunday. SMU leads the pack with 110 points, followed by Louisville with 49.2, UCF with 38 and Houston with 34.2.
Lauren Sara recorded her second fourth place finish this weekend to lead the UConn effort in the 5,000 meter run. Sara crossed the finish line at the 16:39.79 marker to bring five points to the team. Emily Durgin finished the event in 17:02.89 to grab sixth place and three points, while Abby Mace posted a top-ten finish in the nine spot in 18:00.09. Sara and Durgin had doubled up on distance events after running the 10k yesterday. "Friday was a wet day, but today was cool and overcast," explained assistant coach Amy Begley. "It was a perfect day for the mid-distance and distance runners."
Sarah Bowens added another top-ten UConn finish in the long jump. Her measurement of 5.65m was good for ninth place on Saturday, followed by Odrine Belot in 16th. Brittany Power and Melodee Riley rounded out the effot with 21st and 23rd places, respectively.
Ten Huskies posted eleven qualifying times in preliminary heats on Saturday afternoon. Senior Brigitte Mania dominated several distance events, posting the top qualifying times in both the 800m and 1500m runs. Mania crossed the finish line in 2:07.18 en route to qualifying for Sunday’s final. Mania’s effort represented a near UConn sweep of the top times in the 800m, with Faith Dismuke posting the third-best qualifying time in 2:09.56 and Kat Vodopia earning the fourth (2:09.82) with a personal best. "We are excited about ehr break through," said coach Begley, "and we know there is more yet to come."
Mania once again set the standard in the 1500m run, this time reaching the finish line almost four seconds faster than her closest competition in 4:33.70. Laura Williamson, Lisa Zimmer and Maggie Christe all posted qualifying times for Sunday’s final as well, with Zimmer and Christe posting personal-bests to earn their tickets to the final.
In the sprints, Deysha Smith-Jenkins, Celina Emerson and Nyanka Joseph cemented their spots in the championship heats. Smith-Jenkins posted the fourth-best time in the 200m (23.97) to advance while Joseph fell just short of making the cut. Emerson and Joseph posted back-to-back finishes in fifth and sixth places, respectively, to reach the finals.
Smith-Jenkins and Taylor Anderson posted preliminary times of 11.91 and 11.92, respectively, that just missed the standards to make Sunday’s final.
Representing the Huskies in the 100m hurdles finals will be Madalayne Smith. The senior raced across the line for a time of 13.97 seconds, marking the fourth-fastest qualifying time.
Action resumes on the final day tomorrow morning at 10:00 a.m. with the triple jumpers and wraps up with the 4x400m relays at 2:00 p.m. A complete meet program for Sunday, as well as live watch links, has been posted above.