Queen Quedith Harrison has been on a tear lately. This week she’ll bring her show to the Penn Relays, where she is scheduled to run the college women’s 100-meter hurdles as well as a leg on her Virginia Tech team’s shuttle hurdle relay.
Harrison is the current world leader in both hurdle events, the 100 and 400. She won both events over the weekend at the Atlantic Coast Conference championships, running a wind-aided 12.44 in the shorter race and a world-leading 54.66 in the longer. (She is not entered in the IH here. Her legal-wind world-leading time in the 100H for this season is 12.65.)Harrison, a 21-year-old senior from Richmond, Va., made the U.S. Olympic team in 2008 as a 19-year-old and made the Olympic semifinals in the 400 hurdles. Last year, a favorite at the NCAA championships, she got injured and did not compete in Fayetteville.
She is accompanied to Penn by fellow hurdler Kristi Castlin, who had to settle for 2nd behind Harrison at the ACC as well as at this year’s NCAA indoor championships. Castlin has impressive personal bests herself of 12.81/12.59w, the latter in losing last weekend.
The Relays race is hardly a gimme, as the loaded field includes the NCAA Division II champion and 2009 Relays runnerup, Jamaican Shermaine Williams (13.06 best) of Johnson C. Smith; Texas A&M teammates Natasha Ruddock (12.97), the 2009 national junior college champion, and sophomore Vashti Thomas (13.03); Ti’erra Brown (13.30/12.70w) of Miami, 3rd in the ACC and the NCAA behind the VaTech pair; Penn State’s Aleesha Barber (12.90), who competed in Beijing for Trinidad; NCAA scorer Vanneisha Ivy (13.18) of North Carolina, and Central Florida teammates Jackie Coward (13.21) and Tiki James (13.03).
The Relays meet record is 12.70, set 10 years ago by Donica Merriman of Ohio State.
The 100 hurdles is one of numerous individual events contested for college women at this year’s Relays.
- In the absence of IH stars such as Harrison, Castlin and Brown, the women’s 400-hurdle field is led by LaToya James (best of 56.38) of UNC, Andrea Sutherland (57.12) of Texas A&M and Tameka Jameson (56.65) of Miami. James was 3rd in the recent ACC championships. Sutherland finished 3rd in the 2007 Penn Relays high school girls 400 hurdles, running for Edwin Allen High School of Jamaica. Last year she ran for Barton County Community College.
- Samantha Henry of LSU defends her championship in the women’s 100 meters. Henry, a senior from Jamaica, ran at the Relays in high school for the Queen’s School for Girls. She has bests in the 100 of 11.18/11.04w, and she will face a talented field of challengers that include LaKya Brookins (11.20) of South Carolina, the NCAA indoor champion for 60 meters in 2009; Sheniqua Ferguson (11.33), in her first year at Auburn, the NCAA indoor champion last month at 200; LSU teammates Kenyanna Wilson (11.20) and freshman Takeia Pinckney (11.38/11.30w); Terra Evans (11.33/11.19w) of Texas Tech, and Trisha-Ann Hawthorne (11.37w) of UConn.
- Shara Proctor of Florida defends her championship in the long jump against Deandra Doyley of Miami and Sarah Nambawa of Middle Tennessee, among others.
- Proctor is one of the challengers in the triple jump, trying to unseat Kim Williams of Florida State. Williams has won the triple jump five years in a row at Penn, in 2008-9 for FSU and the previous three years for Vere Tech (Jamaica). Williams is also reigning NCAA champion indoors and outdoors. Other challengers include Clemson’s Patricia Mamona, the NCAA indoor runnerup, and Middle Tennessee’s Nambawa.
- Epley Bullock of Nebraska defends her championship in the high jump. Bullock (best of 6-2 ¼) faces other 6-foot jumpers such as Brittani Carter of LSU and Priscilla Frederick of St. John’s. Also in the field is Tynita Butts, freshman at East Carolina, who won the Relays high school long jump the last two years for T.C. Williams H.S.
- Rachel Laurent, sophomore at LSU, won the pole vault last year as a freshman and set the meet record, of 13-10 ½. She now has a personal best of 14-3 ½ and will contend with other 14-foot vaulters such as Katie Stripling and Tina Sutej of Arkansas.
- Meghan Briggs of Virginia defends her Relays championship in the javelin. Briggs won the ACC championship over the weekend. One of her challengers will be Karlee McQullen of Penn State, the 2007 Relays high school champion for Hilltop HS of Johnstown, Pa.
- The leading entrant in the women’s discus is Keely Medeiros, a Brazilian student at Florida, who has a best of 167-10.
- The Gators also have the top competitor in the shot put, in NCAA champion Mariam Kevkhishvili, a native of the country of Georgia who won the indoor title last month with a lifetime best, 61-0. Teammate Medeiros is also in that field.
- The top entrant in the hammer is Kim Williams of LSU, a best of 195-9.
- Stephanie Pancoast of Cornell, the defending champion in the women’s steeplechase, has a best of 10:11.95. Sarah Pease of Indiana has run 10:06.05. Others include Mary Dell of Shippensburg and Rebekah MacKay of Syracuse.
- The flat 3,000 is scheduled to have Alison Smith, this year’s Big East indoor champion (9:16.62) for Villanova; Kim Ruck, who has run 9:30/16:01 for Clemson; Wendi Robinson (9:26) of Indiana, and Lucy Van Dalen (9:26), last year’s Relays runnerup for Stony Brook.
- Jackie Areson of Tennessee is scheduled either to defend her Relays championship in the 5,000, where she has run 15:51, or to make her debut in the 10k. Also in the 5k are Rebecca Lowe (15:50), Aussie attending Florida; Neely Spence (16:13), this year’s NCAA Div. II champion for Shippensburg; Megan Hogan (16:09), who won the Relays 10k last year for George Washington; Lucy Van Dalen’s twin sister, Holly (15:55), fellow New Zealander at Stony Brook; Villanova’s Amanda Marino (16:04), and Georgetown frosh Emily Jones (9:27 3k), who ran in the Relays high school 3k last year.
- Lowe, who has run 32:24.70, and Areson are also listed as possible competitors in the 10,000, along with Auburn Brit Hollie Knight (34:42).