By Nate Perry, TTU Sports Information
COOKEVILLE, Tenn. – Just like the other teams across the country competing for the first time since early December, Tennessee Tech track and field went into this weekend's Jim Green Invitational looking to see how its athletes handled the long layoff, and where they measured up from a competitive standpoint.
"I was really pleased with the meet today," said TTU head coach Wayne Angel. "I think at this point, we're not looking at specific times or marks as much as how competitive we were in every event. We were in the mix of things for all of our events, whether it was the jumps or whatever we were doing on the track."
Purity Sanga produced one of the top highlights, coming in third place in the 3,000 meters with a career-best time of 9-minutes, 44.39 seconds. It beat her old mark of 9:54.43.
While results from this week are still incomplete, Sanga's 3K time stands as the best mark of any OVC athlete this season by approximately 15 seconds. Given her performances during the cross country season, Angel knows the impact Sanga's talent can have on his team, and the hard-working example she can provide for her teammates.
"Purity was outstanding today," he said. "She followed her race plan well and reaped the rewards as a result. That's the message we've been trying to send to the team. When you trust in the process and trust in your coach, the times and marks will take care of themselves."
Raven Smith also took a top-10 finish, placing seventh out of 20 competitors in the triple jump with an 11.80-meter leap (38 feet, 11.75 inches). Smith's result was a major improvement on her first outing this year at Vanderbilt, where she leapt 11.13 meters.
The current OVC performance list from the Track and Field Results Recording System (TFRRS) has Smith's triple jump as the best in the conference by more than nine inches.
Lisa Wickham, the TTU record-holder and defending indoor league champion in the 60-meter dash, took part in the event for first time this season and finished in 7.59 seconds. That mark was good enough to claim second place in her heat, and 10th overall out of 53 runners.
Wickham ran in the 200 meters as well, and recorded the Golden Eagles' best result – 12th place – with a time of 25.06 seconds. It was just shy of a new indoor personal best (25.01).
Teauna Anderson joined Wickham in both the 60m and 200m and recorded new personal bests in each. Her time of 7.99 seconds in the 60 bested her old mark of 8.15, and her 200-meter time of 25.96 seconds was better than her 26.15 from the Vanderbilt Indoor Opener in 2017.
Freshman Jordan Toney also took new personal bests in the 60 and the 200 after running them both for the first time at Vanderbilt. Her time of 8.12 seconds in the 60 was an improvement of almost two tenths of a second, and her mark of 26.83 in the 200 shaved more than a half-second off of her old time.
"I thought that our sprinters did an outstanding job," Angel said. "Lisa looked very good in the 60m and 200m today. I think they are gaining the confidence necessary to achieve the results that we will need at the OVC championships in February."
Chepkemboi's first attempt in the 3,000m placed her in the top half of the field with a time of 10:26.19, while Kwambai ran the mile for the first time, and produced a mark of 5:19.17.
"Very proud of the distance crew, said Angel. "Everyone competed hard, and they all got personal bests as a result. Janet would have run faster had she not fallen after being tripped."
Freshman Abby Mink threw the shot put 11.69 meters (38-4.25), which was an improvement on her effort from the first meet this year (11.14m, 36-6.75).
Freshman Anya Akili went 5.33 meters in her first collegiate attempt in the long jump.
All in all, Angel was pleased with what he saw in Lexington.
"We're in a good place at the moment," the coach said. "We just need to stay healthy, keep building on the positive momentum that we've established, and focus on the process of being champions when it is required in February."