By: Kenny Bybee (email@example.com)
NACOGDOCHES, Texas - The Rice Owls men's and women's track and field teams won three individual events and placed nine overall in the top three on the second day of the Skechers Carl Knight Invitational, hosted by Stephen F. Austin at Fletcher Garner Track on Friday.
Sophomore distance runner Elsa Racasan may have posted the best performance of the evening, finishing first collegiately and second only to former Rice All-American Becky Wade in the 1500m with a personal best time of 4:25.45. Racasan's lifetime best mark moved her into the top 10 in the event in Rice history and puts her number one among all Conference USA competitors.
Also shining in the distance events was junior Cali Roper, who made her outdoor debut by winning the 5000m in a time of 16:49.12, which ranks second in C-USA. Freshman Abigail Cartwright made her collegiate debut in the 5000m and finished second overall in a time of 16:49.72 and was followed by junior teammate Katie Jensen for third (17:12.86).
The women also continued to dominate in the pole vault with seniors McKenzie Johnson (3.95m) and Marielle Brisbois (3.95m) tying for first among collegiate competitors.
"We really had some outstanding performances today," Rice women's T&F head coach Jim Bevan said. "Elsa ran unbelievably well as did Abigail in her first career 5k. It was also nice to get the Wassef twins back in action because they're a big asset to our team. And as has been the case all season, our vaulters were top notch today."
On the men's side junior Vitaliy Bilenko set a massive personal best in the pole vault with a mark of 5.03m (16-06.75) to take over the C-USA lead and finish third overall among collegiate competitors on Friday.
In the distance events senior Will Firth earned his second outdoor victory of the season by winning the 5000m (14:50.74) while junior William Roberts set a season-best with a second place finish in the 1500m (3:50.61). Marco Ruiz (3:53.76) and Imran Bell (3:58.55) also set personal bests in the same event.
Senior Chris Sanders also set a personal best with 6844 points to place third in the decathlon, the third most points by any competitor in the league this season. Sanders won the 110 hurdles (15.05) and long jump (6.99m) while placing third in the javelin, discus and high jump.
Sophomore thrower Uche Ugwunze also had a solid afternoon for the Owls by placing second collegiately, fifth overall, in the hammer throw with a new personal best mark of 54.07m (177-05).
Day three of the meet picks back up Saturday morning beginning at 9 a.m.