May 14, 2010
ORLANDO, Fla. ----- UAB sophomore Rhiannon Johns claimed the 10,000-meter title and freshman Akira McSwain finished runner-up in the heptathlon to highlight the performance of the Blazers' women's track team here Friday at the Conference USA Track and Field Championships.
The UAB women are tied with UTEP for first place in the team standings with 22 points after two days of competition. East Carolina has 20 points and is in third place while Tulsa is fourth with 17. Rounding out the two-day team scores are Rice with 13, SMU with 13, Southern Miss at 8, Houston 4 and host UCF with 1 point.
Johns, from Sault Ste. Marie, Canada, won the 10,000 in the final event of the evening with a time of 35:07.25. UTEP's Kathya Garcia was second at 35:11.08. UAB senior Kristina Olsen placed eighth in the event with a personal best time of 36:50.17.
In the heptathlon earlier in the day, McSwain finished with a point total of 4,983 to finish second to Tulsa junior Lydia Chamberlin who registered 5,021 points. Blazer teammate Nora Mehl, the defending champion in the event, placed sixth with 4,731 points. UTEP's Marine Menez was third with 4,894 points.
"To be a conference runner up as a freshman is a great accomplishment," UAB head coach Kurt Thomas said of McSwain. "She has progressed all year and it really showed the past two days with another personal best in the heptathlon and eight big points for the team.
"Nora did a great job also," Thomas said. "She had some time off because of an injury and probably wasn't 100 percent. But that doesn't stop her from giving her best. Sixth place at less than full strength is still a good performance and really helps the team.
McSwain maintained her first day standing as she finished fifth among the 16 competitors in all three of Friday's events. She had long jump effort of 17-7, threw 102-3 in the javelin and ran a 2:28.42 in the 800-meter run.
Mehl, meanwhile, was fourth in the javelin (104-11), seventh in the 800 (2:29.04) and 12th in the long jump (16-9 1/4) on Friday.
"Coach (Althea) Thomas really did a good job getting the girls ready and it showed with their performances," Kurt Thomas said. "This is a good start for the team, and will give the other girls motivation for tomorrow."
The meet will continue Saturday at the UCF Track and Field Complex with a full schedule of events.