Jumping Trojans

Published 10:00 pm Monday, June 15, 2009

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — The Troy University track and field season concluded at the NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships concluded on the campus of the University of Arkansas, with junior Leander McKenzie and senior Agata Cichoszewska vying for spots in the finals of their respective sports. The duo were just part of the student-athletes who were competing for a national championship, joining junior Tiphanie Baker who competed on Thursday.

“What an exciting competition,” Troy Director of Track & Field/Cross Country Jill Lancaster said. “To see our athletes represent the university, our program and the community at the highest level of competition was an honor. These three student-athletes have proven all season long, as they rewrote the record books and duplicated NCAA marks all season, that they belonged at this level of competition.”

After another long day of weather-related delays, the events started late with McKenzie racing for the second time in as many days in the 110-meter hurdles. McKenzie finished sixth in his heat – just one of two run in the semfinals – with a time of 13.90 seconds. It was just 0.09 seconds short of hitting the qualifying time for the finals, however, the junior was the only runner to compete in the event from the Sun Belt Conference.

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“Leander had one of the best races I have seen him run,” Lancaster said. “He ran the race up front, and I think he is ready to go to another level in the future.”

Meanwhile, Cichoszewska finished her career with a 14th-place finish in her flight of the preliminaries in the triple jump. The senior finished with a jump of 12.92 meters (42’4.75”) after jumping 12.91 on her first jump and fouling on her second attempt. She finishes her career as one of the most decorated female jumper in school history, holding both the long jump and triple jump school records in the outdoor season (set this season).

“Agata was so close to getting into the finals,” Lancaster said. “It was a heartbreaker for her, but her jump was still one of her bests. One of the most consistent performers in career at Troy, and our program is going to miss her in competition. She closes out her collegiate career at the highest level, but will continue to train and utilize her NCAA experience and knowledge as a student coach in the future until she finishes her degree.”

McKenzie and Baker will return for their senior season in 2010 as members of the team with national championship experience, and will look to build upon that for a return to trip to the NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships.

“Leander and Tiphanie can build upon this NCAA experience for next year,” Lancaster said. “Your first trip to an elite competition like this can be such a learning experience.”

Baker will be able to utilize that experience in the indoor season beginning in January 2010, while McKenzie must wait until March 2010 for the outdoor season to begin.