T-Birds set three school records, tally eight event wins at Jayhawk Classic

Cloud County sophomore Lesley Mahlakoane (center) set a school record in the men's 600-yard run at Saturday's Jayhawk Classic
Cloud County sophomore Lesley Mahlakoane (center) set a school record in the men's 600-yard run at Saturday's Jayhawk Classic

LAWRENCE, Kansas — The Cloud County Community College track and field teams appeared in mid-season form Friday and Saturday at the Jayhawk Classic, hosted by the University of Kansas, as the T-Birds picked up eight event wins and set three school records over the weekend.

A pair of Cloud County newcomers inked their names in the record books as freshmen Jacqueline Pokuaah and Deya Erickson each racked up record-setting victories Saturday.

Pokuaah cruised to a win in the women's long jump, posting a mark of 19-feet, 6.75-inches during the finals. Her jump is currently the third best mark in the country amongst NJCAA athletes and topped the previous indoor school record of 19'5.5'' set in 2003 by Denise Scott.

In addition to her victory, Pokuaah added a third-place finish in the women's 60-meter hurdles with a time of 8.85, just behind the record-setting time of 8.51 by Erickson.

Erickson, who now owns the fastest time this season for a NJCAA athlete, shaved over two-tenths of a second off her preliminary time of 8.74 en route to the event win and school record. The previous indoor 60-meter hurdles record did belong to Pokuaah, who posted a time of 8.80 back on Jan. 11 at The Graduate Classic.

The third school record set over the weekend came via Cloud County sophomore Lesley Mahlakoane as he won a nail-biting finish in the men's 600-yard run during the PM session with a time of 1:10.85, just edging second-place finisher Kyle Clemons (1:10.90).

Mahlakoane's time bested the previous school record of 1:11.1 set in 1980 by Paul Jones, a former NJCAA and NCAA All-American out of Wyandotte, Kansas.

Freshman Sten Sepp earned first place in the AM session of the 600-yard run, earning a trip to the national meet with a converted qualifying time of 1:22.00.

The T-Birds also received an event win from sophomore thrower Avi Bulai in the women's weight throw with a toss of 61'9.5. She currently leads the nation with a throw of 62'1 back on Jan. 11; over six feet further than the second best mark amongst NJCAA athletes belonging to Central Arizona's Devia Brown (55'9).

Freshmen distance runners Santino Kenyi and Saba Khvichava finished back-to-back atop the podium in the men's 800-meter run during the PM session with national qualifying times of 1:56.22 and 1:58.91, respectively. Fellow freshman Ablel Gebreselase won the AM session of the 800-meter run in 2:01.95.

The duo of Kenyi (2:32.05) and Khvichava (2:34.26) would also finish first and second in the men's 1,000-meter run, while freshman Dennis Kiptoo was close behind in third place with a national qualifying time of 2:34.80. Kiptoo added a second-place finish in the 3,000-meter run, crossing the finish line in 8:31.45.

Additional top finishers for the T-Birds over the weekend included sophomore Peter Ackah in the men's long jump as he finished second with a leap of 23-07.25; a third-place finish from sophomore Murphy Bavinga in the triple jump (46'09) and fifth-place finishes by sophomores Levi Armon (47'2.5) and Takyra Hilton (45'11.25) in the weight throw events.

Hilton would also a fourth-place finish in the women's shot put (41'9.75).

The T-Birds also posted new national qualifying marks in the men's mile as freshman Kwanele Mthembu finished third in the AM session (4:28.13). The men's 4X400-meter relay team of Sepp, Mahlakoane, Marco Joseph and Tanner Brown also turned in a national qualifying performance, finishing with a time of 3:23.49.

Brown, competing in his first heptathlon, finished seventh qualified for nationals with the best heptathlon score (4237) amongst NJCAA athletes so far this season.

Cloud County will now turn its attention toward the two-day Husker Invite, scheduled for Friday and Saturday out in Lincoln, NE.