By Rochelle Black
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. -- Ayana Walker's personal best in the 200m and Adika Smith's top ten finish in the 200m led the way for the Hawks in their season opening meet at the BSC Panther Ice Breaker Invitational. The meet, held at the Birmingham Crossplex Center, was the first for Shorter as an NCAA institution.
The ladies had a few highlights at the end of the day. Walker's time of 24.67 not only earned her runner-up honors, it also puts her second on the all-time list, behind All-American K'Ianca Dupree. Lakeisha Spikes fared well too, making the finals in the 60m dash. Her 7.70 time was just off a lifetime best, and gave her a tenth place finish. She then capped off her meet with a ninth place finish in the 200m dash, crossing the line in 25.20. Had Shorter been eligible to compete in this year's NCAA championships, their times would have been a provisional qualifying times. Nevertheless, their performances set the tone for the day.
Daisy Helm ran an indoor personal best in the 400m dash, coming in seventh place with a 57.94 time. Chelsey Thomas, competing unattached, tied for fourth place in the high jump. Her leap of 5 feet 4 inches would rank her second in school history.
"Our ladies went out there and gutted out some great marks," commented Head Coach Scott Byrd. "This is only the beginning to what they can accomplish. They've only scratched the surface with their potential."
The men followed the ladies performances with impressive marks of their own. Smith's ninth place performance in the men's 200m over competitors from the likes of Ole Miss, Southern Miss, and Memphis, showed that the former NAIA team champions are ready for the NCAA. Randal Dameron, competing unattached, was actually runner-up in the same event, getting the best of Smith in the head to head race.
Cole Rice raced to an 11th place finish in the 400m, stopping the clock at 49.88 seconds. Gregory Roachford, the "Spider", as his teammates called him due to his long limbed frame, placed 22nd in his first collegiate race as a Shorter Hawk. While 50.80 was his time, he gained a ton of experience in the world of indoor track and field.
"The guys are a young team. We took more freshman and sophomores to the meet than anyone else," Byrd added about his men. "This meet was their introduction to college athletics, and they exceeded my expectations. I'm proud of my guys".
The team heads back to the track January 10-11, where they will compete in the Blazer Invite, hosted by University of Alabama in Birmingham.