By Rochelle Black
ROME, Ga.--This Easter weekend, Shorter hosted its second annual Rome-Shorter Relays. The meet, a return to the days of old when Barron Stadium served as host of the Rome News Relays, had over 200 competitors from as far as New Orleans and Tennessee. However, host school Shorter University, served notice that those who step into Barron Stadium and onto the track should expect stiff competition.
Allen Huntley, a senior out of Atlanta, reminded the crowd that the Hawks are the reigning NAIA Outdoor National Champions. His victories in both the 100 (10.42) and 200 (21.12) weren’t just personal records, but were over teammates and All-Americans Kirk Wilson (10.43) and Travis Benton (10.93). While the latter two are redshirting this season, Huntley current holds the top times in the Peach Belt Conference. He’ll look to continue his reign on top in three weeks when the Hawks and Lady Hawks host the inaugural conference championship.
Cole Rice claimed runner up honors with his personal best time in the 400 meter dash (48.97), while Chad White posted a season best of 50.25. The duo got together with Huntley and Gregory Roachford to win the 4x400 meter relay (3:21.61).
Roachford proved himself a formidable 800 meter runner on the day, finishing 5th in the half mile race in 1:56.66. Three of the men who got the best of him all had Shorter ties. Carlos Perez just recently exhausted his eligibility and now runs unattached, while national champion Oscar Ogwaro continues to train towards his goal of joining the US team. Jihad Ragge, a freshman runner on the hill, is redshirting, but looks to become, along with Roachford, a great addition to the Hawk legacy.
David Johnson highlighted the field events, winning the triple jump with a top 5 all-time jump of 47’11”, besting teammate Kedemah Howard (43’5.25”) by over four feet.
As for the ladies, the results were equally impressive. In her first meet of the outdoor season, Shea Spicher, who all but clinched the ladies winning their first national championship just over a month ago, won the 1500 meter run in a personal best time of 4:51.87. Her time beat cross town rival Berry and soon to be conference foe Lee University.
Rachel McDaniel took third in the 800, her signature event, in 2:21.84. She’ll look to lower her mark as the conference championships quickly approach.
Ashley Ballard, competing unattached this outdoor season, and Lakeisha Spikes battled in the 100 and 200 meter dashes, with Ballard pulling out victories in both events. Ballard’s 11.95 and 24.56 beat out Spikes’ 12.0 and 24.74 on the day. The teammates showed that while they can be friends away from the track, they will go toe to toe on the oval.
Tamala Daley won both the horizontal jumps on the day, with jumps of 17’8” in the long, and 38’0.75” in the triple. But it was Madison Sears who proved to be the best of the field. Her four spin in the hammer not only established a new school record (149’01”), but served as a 10 foot improvement on her personal best.
The team now turns its attention to the SEC, where they’ll be treated as its newest member taking on the likes of Auburn University next week and then the University of Tennessee, then back to Barron Stadium for the Peach Belt Championships.