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LIU Blackbirds Capture Women’s Track & Field Title

Aisha Thomas garnered both the Most Valuable Performer and Outstanding Track Performer awards and paced the Long Island University Blackbirds to the women’s team title during the Northeast Conference Indoor Track and Field Championships in Maryland. Thomas turned in an outstanding two-day meet when she won the 60 meter dash in a meet record time of 7.65, 200-meter dash in 24.88 and t he 400-meter run in 56.39. In the latter event she led for the first 300 meters and then was passed but stayed close to the leader Renay McPherson of Fairleigh Dickinson University until the straight-a-way when she regained the lead and then pulled away. Coming into the 4 x 400 meter relay, the last event on the program, LIU trailed by two points. “We knew that we had to win this event in order to win the championship,” she said. “We all did the job.” Thomas ran the second leg on the victorious 1600 meter relay that just edged out FDU 3:53.03 to 3:53.95, thus enabling the Blackbirds to win the 11-college meet with 113 points to runner-up Monmouth’s 111. St. Francis of downtown Brooklyn, located a few blocks from LIU, finished 10th. The Blackbirds scored well in almost every event and piled up 26 points in the 500 meters, won by LIU’s Jaimie Smith in 1:15.23. “Aisha turned in an amazing performance,” Head Coach Julia Sandiford said. “She ran personal best times each time out . She doesn’t like to lose. She’s a very fierce competitor and is the hardest worker on the team in practice. “When you put those two combinations together with her talent level we knew that she would do something special.” Thomas credits the motivation that she gets from Coach Sandiford and her teammates and the workouts she puts in during practice to her success in this, only her sophomore year at LIU. “Practice helps a lot because what we do in practice we do in a meet,” the student athlete continued. “Coach Simon Hadnett helps me by motivating me, believing in me, keeping my head down, basically telling me how to run, pushing me in practice, and cheering for me.” “Going into the meet, we knew that we had a shot at winning the team title, because we knew that we had a good corps of quarter milers, 500 meter runners, and 800 meter runners,” Sandiford said. “If everybody could deliver in those groups and we as a team pick up points from other areas we would have enough to carry us to the championship. That’s exactly what happened.” The men didn’t perform as well as the women as they finished in third place with 106 points, behind Robert Morris’ second for 113.50 and winner Monmouth’s 134. Shavar Clarke certainly impressed the coaching staff with his performances as he was named Rookie of the Meet after winning two events-the 200-meter dash in 22.10 and ran a leg on the first place Blackbird 1600 meter relay team that crossed the finish line first in 3:18.79. With a time of 6.88, he also finished second in the 60-meter dash. The better male athletes will now compete in the IC4A Championships while the better female athletes will test their ability to work in the ECAC Championships.

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