Track and field team break records in weekend competition

NIU sets school-high marks and personal bests at Tom Jones Memorial and Jim Duncan Invitational.


Courtesy James Hoeck | The Daily Illini

Senior athlete Jazmyn Smith jumps during an event April 9 at the Illini Classic in Urbana, Illinois.

By Skyler Kisellus, Sports Reporter

DeKALB — A slew of broken records and personal bests came as women’s track and field competed at the Tom Jones Memorial Invite hosted by the University of Florida in Gainesville, Florida.

“Florida proved to be a successful competition and the great weather helped the athletes achieve needed times and field event marks, including a pair of school records,” director of track and field Connie Teaberry said in an NIU Athletics news release. “As a coach, it’s always rewarding to see the athletes’ hard work come into fruition. The Huskies are grinding hard and it’s showing.”

Seniors rewrite the record books

Senior Jazmyn Smith’s leap of 6.08 meters in the long jump Friday earned second place at the event behind University of North Carolina redshirt senior Anna Keefer’s winning mark of 6.40 meters. Smith’s jump broke the previous school record she had owned after jumping 6.06 meters at the Drake Relays on April 23, 2021. The jump was also the best in the Mid-American Conference this season.

Senior Kadeja Campbell ran a best time of 54.43 seconds in the 400-meter dash Saturday to finish in 21st. Campbell’s time proved to be another MAC-best and another school record-setter. The time was shaved eight one-hundredths of a second off the previous record of 54.51 seconds that had been tied by Campbell at last year’s MAC Championships.

Setting personal and conference bests in Gator Country

The 100-meter dash saw two Huskies record personal best times. Sophomore Skylynn Blue finished the event in 25th place with a time of 11.79 seconds, the second-best in the conference this season. Sophomore Malia Watkins’ dash clocked in at 11.82 seconds, the third-best time in the MAC, and finished three spots behind Blue on the event leaderboard in 28th place.

Blue achieved another personal best with her time of 23.67 seconds to earn 22nd place in the 200-meter dash. Blue’s time was the fastest in the conference. Junior Jahnetta Jones finished with her personal fastest time of 24.52 seconds, the fifth-best time in the MAC.

Sophomore Scout Regular’s time of 13.81 seconds in the 100-meter hurdles proved to be the fastest in the conference and 19th-fastest in the event. Junior Kayla La Fontain wrapped up the 800-meter run in 2:21.38 to set a personal best time. La Fontain finished 40th out of 44 runners.

Huskies head west

In addition to competition at the Tom Jones Memorial, NIU sent distance runners to compete at the Jim Duncan Invitational hosted by Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa.

Junior Kaitlin Miller had the highest finish of all Huskies in the 5,000-meter dash at 17:50.06 to take fourth place at the event. Teammate and senior Hannah Ricci came right behind Miller in fifth at 17:52.56 followed by graduate student Sara Atkins’ time of 18:06.88 to claim sixth. Freshman Joy Jackson was one of three Huskies to record personal bests in Iowa, running a time of 18:38.33.

Freshman Emma Vorpagel finished the 800-meter dash in 2:18.24 to set a personal best. Junior Brooke Lytle and senior Grace Louis competed in the 3,000-meter steeplechase, earning second and third place respectively. Louis’ time of 11:27.01 was a personal best.

“This is probably as healthy as our (distance) group has been since I got here in August,” distance coach Jamie Moreno said. “We continue to make progress and had a solid showing. We had a number of PRs and, overall, I am happy with the progress that we are making.”

Preparing for Iowa

NIU’s next two events on their outdoor competition schedule will require road trips to Iowa City and Des Moines, Iowa. The Huskies will first be hosted by the University of Iowa at the Musco Twilight Friday and Saturday.

NIU will then take to Des Moines for a return to Drake for the three-day long Drake Relays April 28 to 30. This will be NIU’s final event before the MAC Outdoor Championships kick off May 12 in Kalamazoo, Michigan.

Live scoring for the Musco Twilight can be monitored here. The event will also be available on BTN+.