Junior Barbara Coward and senior Persis William-Mensah broke two UC Irvine women’s track and field program records, in the hammer throw and in the 100m respectively, at the Big West Challenge hosted at Anteater Stadium on Friday.
Coward surpassed 2016 alumna Bridget Devaney’s historic throw of 182-05, launching out an impressive 187-07 mark on her final attempt of the day. The toss also earned her first place honors on the day and leapfrogs her previous personal best by over 10 feet.
The Atwater, Calif. native was not done for the day, returning to dominate the discus field with her best throw in the event on the season thus far at 169-03. Having secured the discus title, Coward had successfully locked in back-to-back titles on the day and three consecutive at the event in her career as an Anteater.
William-Mensah broke her own personal best — also the program best—in her second 100m run on the year, crossing the finish with a wind-legal lifetime-best 11.51. While the performance is a sure-fire favorite to add to William-Mensah’s ever-growing highlight reel as well as to her legendary lore, the time was just 0.01 seconds shy of first place, an honor bestowed to Long Beach State’s junior Courtne’ Davis.
Stamping in a new best Friday, William-Mensah has now sprinted past her PR in the 100m four times, effectively rewriting her name into the record books all four times. During her freshman year, William-Mensah erased a 24-year-old record, clocking in at 11.72 in the Steve Scott Invitational. A year later, she shaved off 0.13 seconds to establish the new time to beat at 11.59. A season after, she brought it down to 11.57 — a mark she beat out last Friday by 0.06 seconds.
During her sophomore year, William-Mensah represented Ghana at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil as part of the 4×100 relay team.
Along with Coward and William-Mensah, a number of other Anteaters also had some noteworthy performances.
Joining Coward out in throws, senior Alison Meegan took second in the hammer throw in her first outing of the season with a 180-08 toss. Her throw wiped out her prior PR by a tremendous margin at 24 feet and 11 inches, earning Meegan a third place ranking in the books. Sophomore Brianna Villanueva showed promise in her young career, logging a new high 157-00 for eighth best in the program. Villanueva reached another milestone in the discus, snagging third on a 155-08 throw.
Junior Adrienne Lee cleared her third lifetime best at 11-11.75 in the pole vault to tie for fourth in the team’s all-time chart and sixth for the day. Meanwhile, junior Elizabeth Akindele brought home silver in the shot put, spinning and firing it out for a 45-10 mark.
Out on the tartan track and along with fellow third-year teammate William-Mensah, Hope Bushnell placed fourth in the 100m and also tied for fourth against past Anteaters in the all-time books with a wind-legal lifetime-best 11.76. She also came it at third in the 200m with a PR 24.03 and ranks second in Anteater history behind William-Mensah in the respective event.
Collectively, UCI accumulated 118 points and finished in fourth. UC Santa Barbara claimed their second consecutive team title with 185 overall points