Owls win twice at Jack Pyrah Invitational

Jamila Jenneh turned in a pair of medal-winning finishes at the Jack Pyrah Invitational Saturday.

The women’s track & field team competed in the 2014 Jack Pyrah Invitational at Haverford Saturday. For his first meet as the team’s head coach, Elvis Forde gave the day a B+.

“The B+ is mostly for the effort,” Forde said. “At this time of the year, our kids are not going to be peaking to be at their very best because we just had a strenuous season of training and we did a lot of heavy volume and heavy lifting, and that slows us down to some degree.”

The Owls claimed a second-place finish overall behind Villanova, which hosted the meet. There were two first-place individual finishes, one being the 4×400-meter relay of junior Demeshia Davis, sophomore Kenya Gaston, senior Hollis Coleman and senior Michelle Davis Timothy with a time of 3 minutes, 56.23 seconds.

Interestingly enough, the Owls competed without a big piece of their team – the distance runners.

“We did not incorporate the cross country kids into this meet because they were just coming off the cross country season, and because of the amount of volume that they had been doing all year long,” Forde said. “It is important to rest and recover to some degree to get ready for the hustle and the bustle of the rest of the season when they come back from Christmas break.”

This gave the sprinters, jumpers and hurdlers a chance to see where they ranked after a long training season this fall.

Junior Jamila Jenneh claimed the other first-place finish for the Owls with her 39-foot-4-inch mark in the triple jump. Jenneh also finished second in the high jump with a mark of 5-foot-3”.

“I had pretty high expectations for myself going into the meet even though it was our first meet,” Jenneh said. “It was up to my first jump and I felt really strong and really good, and it just kind of went uphill from there.”

Coach Forde said he was pleased with Jenneh’s top finishes and expects even more from her in the meets to follow.

“She is one of our top athletes and also had a personal best at the … triple jump,” Forde said. “I am expecting her to be somewhere in the 40s or 41s in the triple jump this year.”

Jenneh’s triple-jump result became her new personal-best indoor distance. Jenneh said her best jump was her fourth one, which she fouled on.

“They said I only fouled by like a hair, which sucks because everybody said that was my biggest jump of the day,” Jenneh said. “I was pretty upset about it and even after I wanted to measure it to see what it was, but I couldn’t because other people were obviously still jumping.”

Forde said he has been welcomed in his new position as coach, and is pleased he had a chance to evaluate his runners.

“It was a tremendous effort and that was very welcoming,” Forde said. “That is one of the major things that I wanted to see from the squad the first time watching them perform and getting a chance to evaluate.”

The Owls will not compete again until Jan. 17, when they attend the Maryland Invitational. Coach Forde said he will give his runners a training regimen to stay in fitness during the break.

“That’s the scary part for me and it makes me really nervous,” Forde said. “It’s not so much that they’re going to have a long break before the meet in January. I issued them a challenge that if a part of them is going to get better, they can’t go home for these long breaks and not do anything, because to come back and start from the bottom of the ladder again would be a setback for us.”

“We are going to give them some things to do,” Forde added. “Obviously we know that most of them aren’t going to have facilities accessible to them, but there are a lot of things we want them to be able to do that can help make the transition back a lot easier.”

Tyler DeVice can be reached at tyler.device@temple.edu.

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