track and field

Laney College Takes 1st in the 100m and 800m at De Anza Invite

We are approaching the halfway mark of the 2019 campaign, as Laney College has another successful showing at the De Anza Invitational. As the team begins to hit their stride, the Eagles are tuning up for the Mike Fanelli Track Classic hosted by San Francisco State University and the home stretch of the competitive season.

With a history of achievement at the De Anza Invitational, the 2019 Laney College team continued to carry the torch, beginning with Shona Christensen throwing a 9.38m in the shot put, a PR for the season. This was followed by impressive performances by Zion Glasper and Jasmine McNary, finishing 1st overall in the 100m and 800m respectively.

2019 Laney College Track and Field Update

We are two meets in to the young 2019 season and we have already seen encouraging results. The goal for this season is to create a foundation for a complete track and field program. Traditionally, Laney College has been lead by elite sprinters. While this tradition will continue, our goal as a staff is to build out the rest of the team, including field events.

Our first two meets went great, with our thrower getting a PR in the shot put and our sophomore sprinters building off a solid freshman season. In our first meet, Jasmine McNary competed in both the 400m and 200m, posting a 27.22 in the 200m and 1:01.12 in the 400m. Zion Glasper was close behind Jasmine running a 27.23 in the 200m and finishing 3rd overall in the 100m with a 12.78. Da’ja Archer also ran the 100m and 200m, posting a 29.06 and 13.97 respectively.

As the rainy season extended into our second meet, the track at the Beaver Mini Meet in Sacramento was soaked. However with some encouragement and excitement to compete, we waited it out and put up great times as we competed for the second week in a row. The highlight of the meet was Shona Christensen throwing a 9.04m in the shot put, which was a personal best. Following a rainy 400m and 100m, we finished our second meet and continued to build on a young season.

Track and field gets up to speed

The Laney Track and Field team burst around the track again and again over the course of the afternoon practice, pushing themselves to approach every pounding step with consistency.

Team members cheer while coaches yell pointers as the runners round the curves. After they collapse, breathing heavily at the end of their races, they are sure to get some high fives and words of encouragement.

The team practices six days a week to perfect their running form and improve personal records for best time in individual races, relays, hurdles, and jumps.

Head coach Kevin Craddock is in his second year with the Eagles. His approach focuses on maintaining proper form in order to achieve excellence during the races.

“Technique wins out every single time. When everybody else falls apart, generally you win by holding it together,” he said.

His approach is paying off. Each member of the 11-person team is consistently improving their times each week, he said. A team of new runners usually does better as a second-year team, but the season is already looking good for these freshmen.

“They’re well on their way to hitting qualifying numbers to state championships,” Craddock said. “They all get to come back next year, and with our track record, the second is the year of domination for the girls.”

One reason the team may have an edge on the competition is because their schedule pits them against many Division I University teams.

“They’ve been getting a lot more exposure than previous teams,” said former hurdler Nia Vance. “When they do run against junior colleges, it will be a lot easier because they’ve been running against those bigger schools.”

The fierce competition provides motivation for the team to work their hardest.

“Six days a week, rain or shine, tired or not, broken leg or not, you’re practicing,” said Stephanie Blackmore, who runs the 200-meter and 400-meter races for Laney.

The team focuses on their core strength as well as running technique. They incorporate yoga stretches into their routine on the field, Craddock said.

Last year was a small team, former team member Mariama Hilburn, who ran individual and relay races, said.

“We had five people on the team. Two hurdlers and jumpers, one 400-meter runner, one 800-meter runner, and a 100-meter runner. We all had a good year,” she said.

The year went so well that all five received a full scholarship to a four-year institution.

Some of those who have moved on to other schools regularly return to Laney’s campus to catch up and encourage their former teammates, said Blackmore.

The camaraderie and team atmosphere helps the runners stay focused in their studies as well, she said.

“Even when we’re not at practice we’re usually together.”

Eva Hannan is a writer and sports editor for The Laney Tower

2017 Track & Field Recap

 The Laney Women’s Track and Field team capped off an amazing post-season scoring 62 points to achieve a 4th place finish at the California JC State Championship. With just 5 young ladies, the eagles maximized their talents across nine events in which everyone scored and medaled at the two-day meet. Most notable was the jumping-hurdling duo of Nia Vance and Brittany Brown. Vance was the highest scoring member of the team with 22.5 points, while Brown scored 20.75 points and brought home a record 5 medals, the most in program history.
     All this was sparked the week prior when the Lady Eagle’s "fantastic five" finished Runner-up at the NorCal Championships. Just to put into perspective how great an achievement this was, the winning team had 35 ladies competing compared to Laney's five.
     This year every member of the team saw new personal best in all their events and each one has been offered multiple FULL scholarships. Some interested schools include UNLV, UC Davis, Univ. of Kansas, Univ. of New Mexico, Univ. of Central Florida, Louisiana Tech, SF State, and Arizona State, just to name a few.

Lady Eagles Results from Northern California Championships:

Nor-Cal Team Runner-ups

4x100m - 2nd, 46.77

100m - 2nd, Kayla Dickerson 12.02

100mh - 1st Nia Vance 13.97; 2nd, Brittany Brown 14.13

400m - 3rd, Mariama Hilburn 55.48

800m - 1st, Bibiana Enriquez 2:17.24 (Personal Record)

200m - 5th, Mariama Hilburn 24.64; 6th, Kayla Dickerson 24.66 (Personal Record)

4x400m - 2nd, 3:52.24 (Season Best)

Long Jump - 1st, Nia Vance 18'3"; 2nd, Brittany Brown 18'2"

Triple Jump - 1st, Brittany Brown 39'2"; 2nd, Nia Vance 38'1"

Lady Eagles Results from State Championships:

4th Place Team Overall

4x100m- 3rd, 46.23 (U.S.#10, Season Best and fastest time at Laney in 4 years)

100mh- 2nd, Nia Vance 13.91 (Personal Record, U.S. #6); 3rd, Brittany Brown 14.01 (PR, U.S. #8)

400m- 6th, Mariama Hilburn 55.41

100m- 4th, Kayla Dickerson 12.01

800m- 5th, Bibiana Enriquez 2:17.52

200m- 9th, Mariama Hilburn 25.01

4x400m- 4th, 3:52.58

Long Jump- 2nd, Nia Vance- 18’10”; 5th, Brittany Brown- 18’ .5”

Triple Jump- 2nd, Brittany Brown-40’ 6” (U.S. #7); 4th, Nia Vance- 39’7”

End of an era

Greg Smith, the respected athletic trainer for the Laney Eagles’ athletic teams for over 37 years, will be retiring on July 31. He will be missed by students and faculty alike.

At the 2017 Spring Sports Awards Banquet Athletic Director John Beam called Smith up to be recognized for his work over the years and presented him with an Eagles letterman jacket.

Smith was a baseball player at Pinole Valley high school before going on to play ball for Contra Costa College and later went to Cal, where he majored in chemistry.

As an athlete Smith had been around athletic trainers and had received treatment for an ankle injury. Smith was struggling with his major, so he decided to weigh his options, and he switched his major from chemistry to physical education.

“I knew what I wanted to do. These trainers didn’t have any grease under their nails and they were wearing the latest athletic gear,” he said.

He started his career with Peralta in 1980 at the College of Alameda, but would also cover games at both Merritt and Laney. As funding for sports programs at COA became shakier, he began to work full-time at Laney in 1986.

“Working with young people, you feel like you’re about their age”

Greg Smith, Laney Eagles’ athletic trainer

His job title was athletic trainer and equipment manager. At that time there was no certification required to be an athletic trainer. Smith could see the future was going to be about rehabbing injured athletes. He got certified as an athletic trainer.

Over the years he has helped countless athletes. He works with all of the sports at Laney. When asked what sport he liked to work with the best, he replied, “That’s too tough a question. I like being a ‘team’ player for each sport as it’s in season.”
Laney Head Baseball Coach Francisco Zapata remembered being worked on by Smith when he played baseball here in the mid-80s and broke his arm.

Smith says that he always enjoyed working at Laney because the students kept him feeling young.

“Working with young people, you feel like you’re about their age,” he said.

Smith is retiring as the Athletic Trainer/Equipment Manager, but he will still be around campus teaching Health Ed, First Aid and CPR.

Race for the finish

Merritt, Laney represent district at Track and Field championships

The California Community College Northern California Section Track and Field Championships were held May 13 at Chabot College in Hayward.

Merritt College had eight of its athletes representing the school. Laney College had three—freshmen Mariama Hilburn and Bibiana Enriquez and sophomore Alyssa Emerson.

Ali Arsiniega started things off for Merritt by taking fifth place in the 1500-meter run at an official time of 4 minutes, 52.93 seconds.

She was confident about the race the evening before when she took a break from her team bonding over a game of UNO to talk about the race.

Arsiniega was well aware of her competitors. “They are all really talented girls,” she said. Arsiniega said that most of the girls that she was running against are also 5K runners who would have the advantage in endurance.

She felt her advantage in her quest to qualify for the state championships was in her ability to kick.

“It’s all about who can kick the longest at the last lap,” she said.

Arsiniega will be competing Saturday, May 21, at San Diego Mesa College for the state championship along with a few of her teammates.

Thunderbirds sophomore Tyler Daugherty took second place in the men’s 1500-meter run in 3:55.11, narrowly missing first place.

Daugherty finish just nine-hundredths of a second behind American River College’s Conor Wells who ran 13.55.02.

Freshman Asa Allen will be running the 110-meter hurdles for Merritt after qualifying with a fourth-place finish of 14.62.

Ray’Ven Sanders will round out the group of Merritt four after the freshman landed in third place in the women’s high jump with a mark of 1.56 meters.

Merritt track coach Brock Drazen should be happy as he correctly predicted that he would have his hurdlers, 1500-meter runners, and the high-jumping Sanders all qualify for San Diego.

Drazen also thought that his 4×400-meter team would have an outside shot at qualifying but it came short one place and came up just short as it finished fifth.
Before the 4×100 relay team lost their first-leg runner to injury, they were ranked fourth in the state and would have performed well.

Hillburn is the sole qualifier for Laney in the 400-meter dash for Laney after battling for a second-place finish in the event at Chabot. Her time was 57.38.