Five Golden Eagles qualify for highly-competitive Virginia Challenge

Five Golden Eagles qualify for highly-competitive Virginia Challenge

By Nate Perry, TTU Sports Information

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. – Five Tennessee Tech track and field athletes will be back in action following a week off from competition, as Na'Scottisha Drummond, Khemani Roberts, Purity Sanga, Raven Smith and Ceirra Tate have all met the marks to be invited to this weekend's Virginia Challenge.

The two-day meet, which perennially hosts some of the nation's top talent, will be held at the University of Virginia's Lannigan Field on Friday and Saturday, April 19-20.



Raven Smith will be the first Golden Eagle in action on Friday morning when she lines up for the triple jump at 8 a.m CT. The 2019 Ohio Valley Conference indoor champion has made three attempts so far this outdoor season, with her season-best 11.68-meter leap (38 feet, 4 inches) from the Florida Relays ranking seventh on the Ohio Valley Conference Outdoor Performance List.

The Virginia Challenge will see the first heptathlon attempt of the season for multi-event standout Khemani Roberts, who was the runner-up at the 2018 OVC Outdoor Championships with a score of 5,214 points.

The seven events of the heptathlon will be broken up over both days of the meet, with the 100-meter hurdles, high jump, shot put and the 200 meters being contested on Friday morning starting at 8:35 a.m.

During her performance at the Championships last spring, Roberts was especially proficient in the high jump and the 200 meters, where took she first-place and second-place finishes, respectively.

Roberts' was spectacular in the heptathlon at the 2018 Virginia Challenge as well, recording a personal-best 5,353 points for third place in a loaded field.

Tech's final Friday competitor, Ceirra Tate, will toe the line for the 100 meters at 9 a.m.

Tate has yet to run the 100 this year, but scored five points for Tech with a fourth-place finish at last year's conference meet.

Raven Smith will get things started again on Saturday for the Golden Eagles when she competes in the long jump at 10 a.m. 

This will be Smith's third long jump appearance of the outdoor season, with her season-best 5.75-meter leap (18-10 1/2) from the Western Kentucky Hilltopper Relays ranking tied for fourth on the OVC leaderboard. It is the second-best jump on the team behind Roberts' school-record 5.96-meter effort, which was also set at WKU.

Na'Scottisha Drummond will be the next one up, going in the high jump at 11:30 a.m. Drummond comes off a Hilltopper-Relays performance where she recorded the second-best mark of her outdoor career, clearing 1.70 meters (5-7).  

The senior from Duncan, S.C. is one of five athletes in the OVC to get over 1.70 meters outdoors this year.

At 12:30 p.m., Roberts will begin the final trio of heptathlon events, the long jump, javelin throw and the 800 meters.

At both the OVC Championships and the Virginia Challenge last year, Roberts was a third-place finisher in the long jump and a fourth-place finisher in the 800.

Tate will take her mark in the 200 meters at 1:15 p.m., and will run in one of seven sections, the most for any running event on the women's side.

The sophomore sprinter recorded the team's second-fastest time of the season last week at Western Kentucky, 24.80 seconds, which was good enough for fifth place out of 37 athletes. Her 200 split is currently No. 7 on the OVC outdoor list.

Tate's all-time personal best, 24.00 seconds, came at last year's OVC Championships, where she took third place and added six points to the TTU team score.

The last Golden Eagle to enter the fray will be distance star Purity Sanga, who is slated to run in the first section of the 5,000 meters at 6:50 p.m.

As the owner of the league's top marks for both the 1,500 meters and the 10,000 meters, Sanga will now look to do the same for the 5K. To do so, the Kenyan will need to set a new personal-record, and eclipse Kortney Schardt of Belmont, who owns the conference-leading mark of 16-minutes, 57.44-seconds.

Sanga's current outdoor standard for the 5,000 is 17:18.06.

Photo by Thomas Corhern, TTU Sports Information