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Ashlee Osaji
Ashlee Osaji won gold in the women's long jump at the Sun Belt Championship.
photo courtesy of Appalachian State Athletics

App State Men Finish Fourth, Women Sixth at Sun Belt Outdoor Track and Field Championships

The App State men’s and women’s track and field team capped competition at the Sun Belt Outdoor Championships with a new program record in the women’s 4×400-meters and totaled 10 medals on the weekend, six of which were earned on Saturday. In the team standings the men finished fourth with 98 points, which is the highest finish for the men’s team at the championship meet since joining the Sun Belt in 2014. The women placed sixth in the team standings with 53.2 points.

“I’m very excited to have come into this meet with some contenders in each event,” said director of track & field/cross country Damion McLean. “This coaching staff just showed everyone what we can accomplish together.”

“We had some missed opportunities, but others showed up and showed out when obstacles were in their way. I’m proud of everyone who put everything on the line for the Black and Gold. We will be back stronger next year and we are excited for the future.”

In the men’s 5,000 meters, sophomore Garrett Bivens clinched gold with a time of 14:27.41. Senior Ethan Barber, graduate student Jonah Bird, and senior Oliver Wilson-Cook also contributed to the Mountaineers’ team score by placing fifth (14:39.42, PR), sixth (14:39.95), and seventh (14:43.02), respectively. Sophomore Ethan Lipham garnered gold in the men’s 1,500 meters, stopping the clock at 3:52.30. Sophomore Steven Smith added to the Mountaineers’ team score with a seventh-place finish in the race with a time of time of 3:59.57

The women’s 4×400-meter relay quartet of freshmen Nicole Wells and Sierra Smith, sophomore Daye Talley, and freshman Jayla Adams secured silver and set a new App State program record with a season best time of 3:40.01. The previous App State record was 3:42.17, set by Jelonnie Smith, Jada Branch, Hunter Robinson, and Mariah Atwater in 2023.

In the women’s 800 meters, sophomore Addison Ollendick-Smith secured silver with a time of 2:09.48. She had set the facility record of 2:10.43 in the prelims, but ULM’s Kimone Campbell reset the record at 2:07.46 in the final.

Senior Niejel Wilkins appeared on the podium after his performance in the men’s triple jump, where he landed third with a leap of 15.55m (51′ 0.25″). Wilkins had previously earned bronze in the triple jump at last year’s conference championship meet. Sophomore Harrison Robinson also registered a third-place finish with a time of 14.00 flat in the men’s 110-meter hurdles.

In the women’s triple jump, graduate student Ashlee Osaji landed fourth with a season best leap of 12.58m (41′ 3.75″). App State also saw a fourth-place finish from the women’s 4×100-meter relay team of freshmen Kendall Johnson and Sierra Smith, senior Taylor Smith, and freshman Jayla Adams, who stopped the clock at 44.95. In the women’s 1,500-meter final, senior Jasmine Donohue placed fourth (4:36.43) and freshman Rhys Ammon took seventh (4:39.45). Donohue also went on to place seventh in the women’s 5,000 meters with a time of 17:40.80.

With a time of 47.38, sophomore Parker Kinney rounded out the top-five in the men’s 400 meters. Kinney went on to compete in the men’s 4×400-meter relay with senior Jabari Dalton, freshman Davis Hunt, and senior Cole Krehnbrink. The quartet rounded out the top-five with a season best time of 3:12.42.

Freshman Jared Hiatt, Dalton and senior Taylor Smith registered sixth-place finishes for the Mountaineers. Hiatt cleared a personal best bar of 2.02m (6′ 7.5″) in the men’s high jump. On the track, Dalton stopped the clock at 53.98 in the men’s 400-meter hurdles, while Taylor Smith clocked a time of 24.02 in the women’s 200 meters.

Sophomore Nadiyah Byard tied for eighth in the women’s high jump with a clearance of 1.62m (5′ 3.75″). The men’s 4×100-meter relay team of freshman Armonté Ferguson, Wilkins, Harrison Robinson, and Kreknbrink stopped the clock at 41.92 to place eighth.

Day 1 & 2 Review
Four Mountaineers earned spots on the podium on Friday. Osaji garnered gold in the women’s long jump with a facility record leap of 6.26m (20′ 6.5″). Freshman Matthew Gray and Wilson-Cook secured silver in the men’s pole vault and men’s 10,000 meters, respectively. Gray recorded a clearance of 5.27m (17′ 3.5″). On the track, Wilson-Cook stopped the clock at 30:59.54. Joining Wilson-Cook on the men’s 10,000-meter podium was Bird, who stopped the clock at 31:09.51 to place third.

Junior Jonah Morris led the Mountaineers in the men’s 3,000-meter steeplechase, stopping the clock at 9:15.48 for a top-five finish. Steven Smith and senior Ben Datte clocked personal bests of 9:24.55 (seventh) and 9:24.72 (eighth), respectively. Junior Matthew Bigelow and senior Nathan Karl also added to the Mountaineers’ team score with a sixth-place finish in the men’s pole vault (5.02m (16′ 5.5″)) and seventh-place finish in the men’s shot put (16.71m (54′ 10″), respectively.

On Thursday, junior Daiyanna Cooper and senior Chris Wainscott placed sixth in the women’s hammer throw (54.84m (179′ 11″)) and men’s hammer throw (55.88m (183′ 4″)), respectively. In the women’s pole vault, graduate student Celia Agee registered a seventh-place finish with a personal best clearance of 3.72m (12′ 2.5″), which tied her for eighth in the App State all-time list.

The NCAA East Preliminary Round is slated for May 22-25 in Lexington, Ky. The top-48 declared student-athletes in each individual event and top-24 declared relay teams will advance to the competition. Accepted entries will be announced a week prior to competition on NCAA.com.

Seven Mountaineers currently stand in the top-48 of the NCAA East Preliminary Round Qualifying List at the close of Saturday’s competition. Osaji and Taylor Smith rank fifth and 18th, respectively, in the women’s long jump. Wilkins ranks 11th in the men’s triple jump and Gray ranks 17th in the men’s pole vault. Harrison Robinson ranks 40th in the men’s 110-meter hurdles, sophomore Ava Studney ranks 42nd in the women’s pole vault, and Wainscott ranks 46th in the men’s shot put.

All regional qualifiers will be finalized at the conclusion of all NCAA conference meets.

Men’s Team Standings
1.South Alabama – 143 points
2. Texas State – 118 points
3. Louisiana – 99 points
4. App State – 98 points
5. Arkansas State – 90 points
6. Southern Miss – 86 points
7. Coastal Carolina – 74 points
8. ULM – 59 points
9. Troy – 41 points
10. Marshall – 10 points

Women’s Team Standings
1. Texas State – 120.2 points
2. Louisiana – 115.7 points
3. Arkansas State – 92 points
4. Southern Miss – 90.2 points
5. Marshall – 71.2 points
6. App State – 53.2 points
7. Georgia Southern – 48 points
8. ULM – 46 points
9. Georgia State – 44 points
10. Coastal Carolina – 43 points
11. James Madison – 30 points
12. South Alabama – 35.5 points
13. Troy – 19 points

{Information provided by Appalachian State Athletics}