WINSTON-SALEN, N.C. – In their first-ever Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association Indoor Track and Field Championships, the Claflin University men’s track and field teams broke several school records in placing fourth overall.

The championships, Feb. 10-11, were contested at the JDL Fast Track in Winston-Salem.

Setting the tone early for the Panthers was sophomore Domenic Samuel, who captured gold in the mile run on opening day with a school-record time of 4:31.04. Samuel also reached the podium in the 800 meters, finishing third with a time of 1:58.01 and placed fifth in the 5000 clocking a 16:53.05.

For his outstanding performance, Samuel was the named the CIAA Men’s Indoor Track and Field Championship MVP for the Running Events.

Also setting a school record was freshman Derick St. Jean, who captured gold in the 400 meters, with a time of 48.34. St. Jean has automatically qualified for the 2019 NCAA Indoor Track and Field Championships with an Atlantic Region-leading and personal-best time of 47.23. St. Jean finished just shy of the podium, placing fourth in the 200 meters with a time of 22.12.

Rounding out the individual medals for the Claflin men is Davion McKnight, who captured gold in the 60-meter dash with a time of 6.89. McKnight placed sixth in the 200 meters with a time of 22.16.

“Davion and Domenic were definitely surprised gold medalists,” head coach Lincoln London said. “We went into the meet knowing that Derick had a solid chance of winning based on his performances throughout the year, but with the other two coming in first, it really helped us finish higher than expected. For having such a small number of athletes competing in this, our first CIAA Indoor Track and Field Championship, and finishing fourth, I am extremely proud of the group.”

Collectively, the men’s 4x400 meter relay consisting of Ashtin Knowles, McKnight, Samuel and St. Jean captured silver with a time of 3:23.13.

MarQuette Bizzell, Jr. finished eighth in the triple-jump.

The Panthers return to action Saturday when they participate in the USC Open hosted by the University of South Carolina.

McKie is top women’s finisher

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. – Junior Faith McKie paced the Claflin University women’s track and field team at its first-ever Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association Indoor Track and Field Championships.

The Lady Panthers placed eighth overall in the meet.

McKie, who set a school record in the 60-meter hurdles, crossed the finish line in fourth place with a time of 9.16. She also placed seventh in the 400 meters with a time of 59.56.

Zaria Nelson finished in fifth in the shot put with a throw of 11.88 meters

“We have a very young team with one senior and one junior, so the ladies did as well as could be expected,” head coach Lincoln London said. “I’m really proud of McKie. She improved over each meet during the indoor season and maintained her consistency in the championships.”

Collectively, the distance medley relayteam and the 4x400 meter relay both finished sixth. The DMR team of McKie, Daija Pegues, Brandi McGrady and Esther Njeri clocked a time of 15.50.58 on Sunday, while the 4x400 meter relay of Pegues, Kiara Belton, Jayda Teasley and McKie ran a 4:09.71 on Monday.

The Lady Panthers will return to action Saturday in the USC Open.

Cato, Thomas get softball honors

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Claflin University softball player Kayla Cato was named the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association Softball Player and Defensive Player of the Week, while teammate Shaniya Thomas earned Pitcher of the Week honors.

Cato (5-10, Sr., IF, Decatur, Ga), got a hit in all four games of the HBCU DII Invite in which Claflin went 3-1 on the weekend. She finished the weekend with a .636 batting average to include 8 runs, 7 hits, 7 RBIs, a double and three home runs (two vs. Fort Valley State). In addition, she also had 17 putouts in 17 attempts with no errors in all four games.

Thomas (5-5, Fr, Jefferson) went six innings in the start against Tuskegee and a total of 7.1 innings. In coming on in relief against Clark Atlanta, she pitched 1.1 innings, striking out all four batters she faced. In her start, she allowed one hit (a home run) with five runs (4 earned) 4 walks and 6 strikeouts. She finished the weekend with 10 total strikeouts.

At the plate she had one hit with an RBI in three at-bats.

Claflin will return to action this Friday-Saturday, Feb. 15-16, when they participate in the Bearcat/Fleet Invitational in Due West and Greenwood.

Claflin baseball hosts Bluefield State

The Claflin baseball team will host Bluefield State College in a three-game series this weekend at historic Mirmow Field.

The series kick offs on Friday at 4 p.m., followed by the second and third games on Saturday and Sunday at 1 p.m. each day.

This will be the fourth series meeting between Claflin and Bluefield State, with a total of eight games played. The series is deadlocked at 4-4.

Both teams will bring winning records into this year’s matchup as Claflin is 4-3 after taking 2-of-3 from Salem University last weekend.

The Big Blues are 3-1 following a double-header sweep of Lincoln University, 1-4 and 14-3, last weekend in Cary, N.C. The lone defeat for Bluefield State came to area foe Voorhees College.

The Panthers are led offensively by Clyde Parker and Gerardic “Rod” Dobbs with 12 hits apiece. Parker leads the team in hitting at .545 with a home runs and 9 RBIs, while Dobbs is batting .480 and a team-high 10 RBIs.

Craig Hopkins, who leads Claflin in home runs at two, is hitting .474 at the plate followed by Eric McElveen with a .458 batting averages.

As a team, Claflin is hitting .325 in seven games with 75 hits, 58 runs, 93 total bases and 12-for-12 in the stolen base department.

On the mound, Cleveland Westbrook and Dillon Parker are the top pitchers for the Panthers. Westbrook is 1-0 after striking out 15 Francis Marion University batters in his only appearance of the season.

Dillon Parker, also 1-0 in two outings, has pitched 13 innings and recorded 13 strike outs.

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