A NIGHT TO REMEMBER: SJU Claims Three Golds On Day 2 Of BIG EAST Championship

Junior Claire Mooney claimed 500-meter and 4x400 BIG EAST titles on Saturday.

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Feb. 22, 2014

NEW YORK, N.Y. – Three gold medals, six total medals and a handful of revisions to the program’s all-time performance list made for one of the most memorable nights in St. John’s track & field history as the Red Storm closed out Day 2 of the 2014 BIG EAST Indoor Track & Field Championship in style by securing a fourth-place team finish at the New Balance Armory Track & Field Center on Saturday evening.

St. John’s scored 100 team points over the two-day meet, finishing fourth out of eight teams while seeing a number of student-athletes earn their first conference titles and All-BIG EAST honors. Villanova won the women’s team race with 159.50 points, edging out runner-up Georgetown who finished with 157 points. Marquette took third overall with 114 points.

Saturday night proved particularly eventful for senior captain Rikka Lovely, who closed out the final indoor conference championship meet of her career with two gold medals, a silver medal and a pair of personal bests. Lovely began her day by handedly winning the 60-meter dash final and conference title, setting a new personal best of 7.48 seconds to win by 0.07 seconds over her closest competitor. Lovely’s previous career best at the distance was 7.51 seconds set back on Feb. 18, 2012, and her winning time from Saturday ranks third all-time at St. John’s. The senior then stepped up to the 200-meter final and ran a blazing 23.92 seconds for runner-up and All-BIG EAST honors, the first sub-24-second clocking of her career and the second fastest time in school history.

Classmate Corrine Williams also contested both short sprint finals and came out with double All-BIG EAST honors, placing seventh at both distances. Williams clocked in at 7.80 seconds in the 60-meter dash final and 25.08 in the 200-meter dash final, while senior Amber Allen also secured All-BIG EAST honors in the longer race with an eighth-place run of 25.44 seconds.

Claiming St. John’s second individual BIG EAST title of the evening was junior Claire Mooney, who entered the weekend as the favorite in the 500-meter dash and did not disappoint on her way to her first conference crown. Mooney ran 1:12.14 in the final to outpace her closest competitor by one full second, coming within a tenth of a second of her personal best and running a time that only two student-athletes in St. John’s history have bested.

In the same race, senior Shayna Presley and junior Natasya Rodriquez narrowly missed a podium finish, placing fourth and fifth in 1:14.77 and 1:15.32, respectively, to each earn All-BIG EAST honors and contribute valuable points to St. John’s team tally.

Showing great sprinting depth through the weekend, the Red Storm claimed two more medals in the 400-meter final, with sophomore Pariis Garcia turning in the best performance of her young career with a personal-best 55.66-second run that won the silver medal. Garcia, who had never run under 56 seconds entering the weekend, is now tied for 8th all-time at St. John’s at the distance, with Mooney sitting in seventh at 55.10 seconds. Not far behind Garcia, Allen turned in another stellar performance to claim the bronze medal in 56.18 seconds, her best time of the season.

In the 60-meter hurdles final, freshman Imani Dixon showed great promise by scoring an All-BIG EAST finish by placing seventh in 9.46 seconds.

In a fitting end to the sprint portion of this weekend’s meet, Mooney, Garcia, Presley and Lovely combined to claim gold in the 4x400-meter relay, clocking a seasonal-best time of 3:41.33 for the Red Storm’s third conference title of the evening.

In the middle distances, sophomore Veronica Thompson came within one place of an All-BIG EAST finish as she took ninth in the 800-meter final in 2:12.76. Thompson also featured on St. John’s 4x800-meter relay along with senior Michelle Duffy and sophomore Michelle Van Pelt and Stephanie Van Pelt, finishing eighth overall in 8:44.52 with the entire field running a lap short. Continuing to come back from an injury that forced her to miss the entire cross country season, junior Chelsea Trant placed 18th in the 3,000-meter run in 10:32.14, a season’s best.

In the field events, freshman Gabrielle Houston cleared 1.60 meters in the high jump to earn an impressive All-BIG EAST fifth-place finish in her first season with the Red Storm. Senior Radiya Buchanan tied for seventh in the event with a clearance at 1.50 meters, while freshman Shequell Higgs tied for seventh in the triple jump with a mark of 11.30 meters. In the shot put competition, senior Danette Hinton took 10th with a throw of 11.17 meters and sophomore Ann Dagrin placed 11th with a toss of 11.13 meters. On Friday, Hinton won the Red Storm’s first conference title of the new BIG EAST era with a winning effort in the weight throw.




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