Indoor Season Begins on Thursday with Bill Ward Invitational

Dec. 6, 2017

QUEENS, N.Y. - Coming off one of its most successful seasons in program history, the St. John’s indoor track and field team will kick off the 2017-18 campaign on Thursday evening with the eighth annual Bill Ward Invitational from St. Anthony’s High School in Huntington, N.Y.

Named after the legendary former St. John’s track & field coach Bill Ward, the event serves as the lone home indoor meet of the season for St. John’s and will look to springboard the Johnnies into another successful season beginning on Thursday.

As the final meet before the university’s winter break, the Bill Ward Invite has been a long-standing success for the Johnnies throughout the years, winning ten events in each of the last two seasons.

Both Maya Stephens and Nyla Woods foreshadowed what would become decorated junior seasons for the duo by each winning a pair of individual event victories at last season’s invite. Stephens, a dominating sprinting specialist, took home gold-medal honors in both the 200-meter and 400-meter dashes; while Woods, a throwing champion, also grabbed gold-medal honors in the shot put and weight throw events.

Coach Hurt and his staff bring in its largest team in program history this season, thanks to the addition of 15 newcomers. The lineup remains deep and talented for the Johnnies after claiming the Metropolitan Indoor Championships, finishing second at the METS Outdoor Championships, and finishing third at the both the BIG EAST Indoor and Outdoor Championships. The Johnnies also sent both Stephens and Wood to the 2017 NCAA Outdoor Track & Field East Regional, and just finished short of qualifying for the NCAA Championships.


 

 

With the pair of juniors reaching the NCAA Outdoor Regional qualifiers, Coach Hurt has now guided the Red Storm to 27 consecutive appearances.

SPRINTERS:
With arguably the deadliest 1-2 punch in the BIG EAST with Maya Stephens and Denesha Ransome, St. John’s looks to dominate the sprints in 2017-18.

Senior Jasmine Burkett and junior Torisha LaForce each scored in the 400-meter hurdles at the 2017 BIG EAST Outdoor Championships and will make St. John’s a force in the 400-meter, 500-meter, 800-meter, and 4 x 400-meter events. Sophomores Kafi Ottley and Destiny Davis will also lend their talents to a deep sprint corp. Senior Chenoa Sebastian is a multi-time BIG EAST scorer in the hurdles, and will be joined by talented freshman Antonia Frazier who comes to Queens as the reigning Georgia State Champion in the 100-meter hurdles.

THROWERS:
Nyla Woods is one of the top-returning 20-pound weight throwers in the country after claiming both the Metropolitan and BIG EAST Indoor Championships and finishing second at the ECAC Championships a season ago. The senior leads a young, but talented throwing group that returns BIG EAST scorer Jennifer Odeomne, as well as, sophomores Bernadette McGowan, Olivia Pantale, and Amrys Berry.

McGowan is a proven scoring threat in both the shot put and the weight throw, while Pantale placed second in the javelin at the BIG EAST Outdoor Championships last May and looks to make her mark this indoor season. Berry missed her entire freshmen year with a knee injury, but enters this season as one of the best high school throwers in the country.

JUMPING:
The lineup remains strong for the Red Storm as we move into the jumping events. Anointing Onouha is looking to recapture her BIG EAST Indoor Championship in the long jump after the senior won the title back in 2016. Not to be outdone, however, Erica Graham looks to challenge her teammate as the Atlanta, Ga., native took home the 2016 BIG EAST Outdoor Championship in the same event. The duo will be a terrific tandem throughout the season, and will be joined by senior Jasmine Acosta, who battled back from a pair knee surgeries over the previous three years, to form a triple threat in the long jump event.

The triple jump will have a triple threat of its own that's headed up by Onouha, junior Winona Peace, and sophomore Myaysa Evans. The vertical jumps will be filled with newcomers as freshman Eleftheria Christogeorgou comes to St. John's as one of the highest-rated youth high jumpers out of Greece, and will join fellow freshman Antonia Frazier in the high jump. Sophomore Sophia Alter comes to Queens following a season at the University of Vermont and will share the pole vaulting duties with freshman Gabrielle Kelly. The multi-event competitors will be a strong unit headed by senior Danica Wens, juniors Eboni Birch and Lillith Ida, as well as freshman Antoina Frazier.

DISTANCE:
The middle and long-distance events will be headed by a young group, but should see scoring efforts in the 800-meter, 1000-meter, mile, 3K, 5K, distance medley, and 4 x 800-meter relays. Antonia Howard returns to the fold after winning the Metropolitan Cross Country Championship and earning All-BIG EAST honors in 2016 before sitting out the 2017 indoor and outdoor seasons. Senior Melissa Hidalgo, junior Elizabeth Costantino, and sophomores Stephanie Gerland, Therese Gallagher, and Jackie Gallagher will handle the long-distance events, while junior Shannon Page and sophomore Melissa Greaves will join with Burkett and LaForce to cover the 400-meter, 500-meter, 800-meter, 4 x 400-meter, and 4 x 800- meter runs.

With the depth, talent, and experience that St. John’s brings into this indoor season, Coach Hurt believes that his squad will create a winning combination during the 2017-18 campaign.

For all the latest news on the St. John's T&F team, log on to RedStormSports.com and follow the team (@StJohnsXCTF) on Twitter. You can join the conversation with #SJUTF. If you would like to be added to the St. John's T&F mailing list, send an email to stjcommunications@stjohns.edu with the subject line "T&F Mailing List.”

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