One day after the Owls finished eighth out of 11 teams in the American Athletic Conference Championships, coach Elvis Forde lost his voice.
“I am a big cheerleader,” Forde said. “I lost my voice because cheering for them is important to me to let them know I appreciate the work they put in.”
At the conference championships in Birmingham, Alabama on Feb. 28-29, the Owls claimed their highest finish since joining the American.
In the previous two seasons, the team finished in last place.
“That hurt finishing last last year,” Forde said. “I’m not the best loser. I told them I wanted us to do better and the athletes bought into that.”
Scoring 10 of Temple’s 44 points was freshman sprinter and hurdler Sylvia Wilson, who finished first in the 60-meter hurdles with a time of eight seconds and 40 milliseconds. In the preliminary round, she ran an 8.29, beating her own school record.
“She’s a champion,” Forde said. “That is a huge accomplishment especially for a freshman. It is important to celebrate her especially because she is really only working at 75 percent of her capabilities due to foot injuries.”
Freshman multis competitor Crystal Jones earned nine points for Temple, taking fourth in the high jump and fifth in the pentathlon. The pentathlon consists of five events: the 60 hurdles, high jump, shot put, long jump, and 800-meters. Athletes participate in all events in the same day and have only 30 minutes of rest between each event.
Junior sprinter and jumper Bionca St. Fleur finished in second place long jump after losing the tiebreaker to Cincinnati’s Rebecka Abrahamsson after the pair scored a jump of 6.01 meters.
With her jump, St. Fleur broke the school record of 5.95 meters, which was set in 1987 by Bridgette Hayes.
St. Fleur, who also finished 12th in the 200-meter dash, helped the Owls’ 400-relay team finish fourth out of ten teams.
“You know, we brought in some freshman athletes and they performed,” Forde said. “The infusion of talented freshmen have helped raise the bar for us.”
In the triple jump, junior jumper and hurdlers Sydnee Jacques in fifth and Simone Chapman in ninth. Jacques scored four points and was the final individual to score for the Owls at the event.
The distance medley relay—consisting of graduate student mid-distance runner Blanca Fernandez, Gaston, Halprin-Adams, and sophomore distance runner Katie Pinson—came in second, scoring eight points for Temple.
Pinson also competed in the mile but missed qualifying for finals by 32 milliseconds. In the race, Pinson set a personal record of five minutes, three seconds, and 55 milliseconds, beating her previous best by four seconds.
Fernandez was also expected to run in the 30000-meter race , but she did not participate due to a foot injury.
“This year we can get excited about all the kids, not just Blanca,” Forde said. “I want to find ourselves in that position as long as I’m here because it means we have lots of athletes scoring in several events.”
Maura Razanauskas can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org