Six Owls made the trip to Houston to compete in the 2017 American Athletic Conference Outdoor Track & Field Championships at the Tom Tellez Track from Friday through Sunday.
Coach Elvis Forde said the“nagging injuries” some athletes dealt with affected the amount of athletes he decided to bring on the trip to Texas.
Of those who competed in preliminary rounds, freshman distance runner Millie Howard was the only one to get past the qualifying round. After winning her heat in the 800-meter preliminary on Friday, Howard finished third overall with a time of two minutes, 8.32 seconds in the final on Sunday.
“Whenever a freshman comes here and does well, what you have to expect is that she is ready to come and run at this level next year,” Forde said. “This is a very difficult meet to compete at and if she can pick up a medal in this event, we believe she is doing a very good job as an athlete.”
Sophomore multis competitor Crystal Jones and senior sprinter and jumper Jimmia McCluskey each competed in two events in Houston.
Jones competed in the 400 hurdles and the high jump. She finished 19th in the hurdle preliminary round and did not advance to the final.
Jones earned a silver medal in the high jump competition at the outdoor conference championship in 2016 and won silver in the pentathlon, which includes the high jump, at The American’s indoor meet in January. She did not place in Sunday’s high jump.
“Crystal came down with a foot injury that did hamper her tremendously,” Forde said. “She didn’t come close to what she is able to perform in both events.”
“Not being able to put that foot in the ground and jump off that took away from really being able to compete at the level that she is capable of,” he added.
McCluskey’s season-best long jump of 5.73 meters ranked 11th in The American entering the championship. She finished 12th on Saturday with a 5.7-meter leap. She also competed in the 100 run but did not qualify for the final after finishing 21st out of 23 runners in the preliminary round.
“Her level of fitness probably wasn’t at the level you expect to perform at here,” Forde said. “Due to injury he didn’t get the opportunity to practice as much as she wanted. But to finish up her year just being healthy is a big plus because she has missed this meet in a couple occasions.”
Junior distance runner Katie Pinson and freshman distance runner Grace Moore both competed in the 3000 steeplechase on Saturday. Their times in the event ranked in the top ten in the conference entering the weekend. Moore finished the race in 11:04.45 after stumbling in one of the pits to place 11th. When landing a hurdle, Pinson hurt her knee and couldn’t finish the event.
“Again, two young ladies who were doing tremendously for us all year and who we expected to do great things never got to demonstrate,” Forde said. “You wish the injuries happened earlier in the season, but it didn’t.”
Sophomore distance runner Katie Leisher finished 27th in Sunday’s 5000, the last event featuring a Temple runner. Forde said Leisher “was a little disappointed in the way she performed.”
Temple will add more than 10 recruits for Fall 2017, including Aisha Brown — an indoor high jump champion from Virginia who will also play soccer at Temple.
“I’m looking forward to our second recruiting class coming in next year,” Forde said. “They are the ones we are really looking at to take our program to the next level.”
Tessa Sayers can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @SayersTessa. Follow The Temple News @TheTempleNews and @TTN_Sports.