Owls battle weather in outdoor opener

The team had five first-places finishes on Saturday.

Freshman Semaje Harper runs in the 100-meter dash on Saturday at Franklin Field. | GENEVA HEFFERNAN TTN

Freshman Maya Halprin-Adams toed the starting line at the University of Pennsylvania’s Franklin Field for the 400-meter hurdles with temperatures nearing 40 degrees, along with gusty wind and precipitation.

In the first outdoor track & field meet of her college career on Saturday at the Philadelphia College Classic, the elements presented a problem for Halprin-Adams in an unfamiliar event.

“It was cold and windy, so jumping over hurdles in the wind is terrifying,” Halprin-Adams said. “And on top of that, it was only my fifth time running 400 hurdles, and now it’s like I’m not in high school anymore, so it’s not like we are all so close. People actually know what they are doing, so it is terrifying.”

Temple adjusted to the low temperatures and recorded five individual first-place finishers and two team victories in the 4×100-meter and 4×400-meter relays.

Junior jumper and sprinter Jimmia McCluskey took first in the 100 with a time of 12.39 seconds, beating out 24 competitors.

For McCluskey, the 100-meter is an adjustment from the indoor event, where its equivalent is the 60-meter dash. McCluskey said the extra 40 meters brings a new approach for the competitors.

“With the 60, it’s like, if you don’t get out, you have no slight chance of even catching up with people, but in the 100, you have more of a distance,” McCluskey said. “Even if you get out a little bit slower than everybody, you can pick up your speed and try to catch other people.”

McCluskey also competed with senior sprinter Courtney Mitchell, junior sprinter Kenya Gaston and junior sprinter and jumper Bionca St. Fleur in the 400 relay. The group took first place despite practicing the event for the first time together only two days prior.

“I think we have a lot of chemistry amongst ourselves,” Mitchell said. “So I think that the fact that we only had two days, it went pretty well,” Mitchell said.

St. Fleur and McCluskey both ran the 200, taking first and second place, respectively, and finishing within 11 milliseconds of each other.

Outdoor track & field differs from indoor in that there are two outdoor hurdles events the 100 hurdles and the 400 hurdles. During indoor, the 60 hurdles are the only event.

Junior hurdler Simone Brownlee took first in the 100 hurdles with a time of 14.88 seconds. Later, in the 400 hurdles, five Owls competed and freshman multis competitor Crystal Jones took first. Halprin-Adams took third in the event, coming in about three seconds behind Jones.

Both runners are fairly new to this event, as Jones hasn’t run in the 400 hurdles in almost two years and this was Halprin-Adams’ fifth time running this race.

Jones took third in the long jump, finishing behind  senior jumper Imani Shell, who won the event. Shell took first with a 5.51-meter jump, besting the other five competitors.

Weather played an important factor during the day, particularly due to the low temperatures and wind gusts. Because it was cold, the athletes had to warm up more thoroughly than normal to try to avoid an injury.

Last year when the Owls ran this meet, there was still snow on the ground.

“I think compared to the meet last year, at the same spot, I think we did a lot worse,” Mitchell said. “So I think this year, it’s a lot better going in, and I think that our training has got a lot to do with it. We’ve been training hard in the offseason and we are doing well right now.”

Maura Razanauskas can be reached at maura.lyn.razanauskas@temple.edu.

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