By Nate Perry, TTU Sports Information
CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo. – In the final event of the evening, Sharon Chepkemboi scored Tennessee Tech's first three points in the 10,000 meters, and Purity Sanga Khemani Roberts and Ceirra Tate posted qualifying marks in their respective preliminaries to highlight Tech's Day 1 effort at the OVC Outdoor Championships on Thursday.
Participating in the race for the first time as a collegian, Chepkemboi collected her three points as a result of a sixth-place finish out of 19 runners in the 10,000. She was the fastest non-senior in the competition, completing the meet's longest distance event in 38-minutes, 6.01-seconds. Eastern Kentucky's Lillian Kiborus claimed the league crown with a 36:13.98.
With Chepkemboi's contribution, Tech is slotted in ninth place after the opening day of competition, with plenty of opportunities left to tack on more points. Southeast Missouri leads the way with 23.5 tallies, followed closely by Murray State with 23.
Sanga, Roberts and Tate helped set the table for Tech to bank additional points on Saturday, as Sanga moved on to the 1,500-meter finals, while Roberts and Tate both qualified for the championship section of the 200 meters.
Sanga took the top preliminary time out of 22 participants, recording a mark of 4:37.44. The sophomore paced the field by a sizable margin of more than four-and-a-half seconds – an impressive feat considering the other 11 qualifiers were separated by just over nine ticks of the clock.
Sanga will try to turn her No. 1 prelim time into an individual conference championship at 12:50 p.m. on Saturday.
Vivien Chesire ran in the same heat as Sanga, but was unable to move on to the finals, completing the race in a personal-best 5:06.97.
Roberts and Tate claimed the fourth and fifth qualifying spots, respectively, in the 200 meters.
Both sprinters took second place in their respective heats, as Roberts clocked an all-time-personal-best of 24.45 seconds in the third section, while Tate ran a 24.55 in the initial wave of competitors.
With two entries in the eight-member qualifying field, Tech has a great chance to move up the leaderboard when the finals are run at 2:45 p.m. on Saturday afternoon.
Sophomore Teauna Anderson competed in the 200 as well, crossing the finish line in 26.24 seconds.
Eshe' Robinson currently sits in 12th place after four events of the heptathlon, having accrued 2,351 points. The senior from Nashville took a pair of seventh-place finishes in the 100-meter hurdles (15.71 seconds) and the shot put (9.31 meters; 30 feet, 6 1/2 inches).
Jordan Toney's time of 1:10.93 was not among the top-eight positions in the 400-meter hurdles prelims.
Tech will get back at it on Friday morning at 9:30 a.m. when Robinson starts the final three events of her heptathlon series. Following a long layoff, Roberts and Na'Scottisha Drummond will resume the action for the Golden Eagles with the high jump at 2:30 p.m.