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Ashlee Osaji
Ashlee Osaji won gold in the women's long jump at the Sun Belt Championship and 14th at the NCAA East Preliminaries in the women's long jump.
photo courtesy of Appalachian State Athletics

App’s Osaji Named Sun Belt Conference Women’s Newcomer of the Year

App State graduate student Ashlee Osaji was named Sun Belt Women’s Track & Field Newcomer of the Year and garnered All-SBC honors alongside 12 fellow Mountaineers for their performances at the Sun Belt Outdoor Championships, the league announced on Friday.

Osaji collected First-Team All-SBC honors in addition to Newcomer of the Year recognition after landing first in the women’s long jump with a leap of 6.26m (20′ 6.5″) and placed fourth in the women’s triple jump with a season best leap of 12.58m (41′ 3.25″) at the Sun Belt Outdoor Championships. Osaji is the program and conference record holder in the women’s long jump after recording a leap of 6.54m (21′ 5.5″) for a first-place finish at the Weems Baskin Relays on March 23. Her performance earned her SBC Women’s Field Athlete of the Week honors on March 27. The Madison, Ala. native will make an appearance at the NCAA East Prelims after ranking fifth in the final NCAA East Prelim qualifying list and 14th in the NCAA overall in the women’s long jump.

Junior Garrett Bivens and sophomore Ethan Lipham also garnered First-Team All-SBC honors with their performances at the conference championships. Bivens stopped the clock at 14:27.41 to garner gold in the men’s 5,000 meters. On April 19, Bivens set the program record in the event with a personal best of 14:18.05. In the men’s 1,500 meters, Lipham rose from a fourth-place finish in the prelim (3:58.57) to clinch first in the final with a time of 3:52.30. Lipham rounds out the top-five in the App State all-time list in the men’s 1,500 meters with a time of 3:47.24, which he clocked on April 19.

The 4×400-meter relay quartet of freshmen Nicole Wells and Sierra Smith, sophomore Daye Talley, and freshman Jayla Adams stopped the clock at 3:40.01 for silver, Second-Team All-SBC honors, and a new program record. The previous program record of 3:42.17 was set in 2023 by Jelonnie Smith, Jada Branch, Hunter Robinson, and Mariah Atwater.

Freshman Matthew Gray, sophomore Addison Ollendick-Smith, and senior Oliver Wilson-Cook also collected Second-Team All-SBC honors. Gray landed second in the men’s pole vault with a clearance of 5.27m (17′ 3.5″). The Bryson City, N.C. native set the program record with a clearance of 5.33m (17′ 5.75″) on April 20 before resetting the record a week later on April 27 with a clearance of 5.34m (17′ 6.25″). Gray will make his first appearance at the NCAA East Prelims after ranking 19th in the final NCAA East Prelim qualifying list and 36th in the NCAA overall in the men’s pole vault.

In the women’s 800-meter final, Ollendick-Smith placed second with a time of 2:09.48. In the prelim race, she finished first overall with a time of 2:10.43, setting the facility record for the day. Ollendick-Smith ranks third in the App State all-time list with a personal best time of 2:08.97, which was set on April 13. Wilson-Cook placed second in the men’s 10,000 meters with a time of 30:59.54. He currently stands third in the App State all-time list with a time of 29:53.08, which was set during the 2023 season.

Graduate student Jonah Bird, senior Niejel Wilkins, and sophomore Harrison Robinson collected Third-Team All-SBC nods. Bird joined Wilson-Cook on the podium for the men’s 10,000 meters after clocking a personal best of 31:09.51 to place third. Bird also registered a sixth-place finish in the men’s 5,000 meters with a time of 14:39.95 to score for the Mountaineers.

Wilkins landed third in the men’s triple jump with a leap of 15.55m (51′ 0.25″) at the SBC Championships. He recorded a personal best of 15.83m (51′ 11.25″) on April 27 to match Joel Gaddy’s 2008 mark and tie for fifth in the App State all-time list in the men’s triple jump category. The Kinston, N.C. native will make his second consecutive appearance in the NCAA East Prelims after ranking 14th in the final NCAA East Prelim qualifying list and rounding out the top-25 in the NCAA overall in the men’s triple jump.

Harrison Robinson earned a Third-Team All-SBC nod after rising from seventh (14.14) in the men’s 110-meter hurdle prelim to finish third and earn bronze in the final with a time of 14.00. The Jacksonville, Fla. native ranks third in the program all-time list after clocking a time of 13.93 on March 22. He will make his first appearance at the NCAA East Prelims.

Joining Osaji, Gray, Harrison Robinson, and Wilkins at the NCAA East Prelims will be seniors Taylor Smith and Chris Wainscott and sophomore Ava Studney The meet will be held in Lexington, Ky. on May 22-25. Fans will be able to watch all the action on ESPN+.

{Information courtesy of Appalachian State Athletics}