Seven to Compete at 2016 NACAC U23 Championships

MANHATTAN, Kan. – Seven current and former Kansas State track and field athletes are slated to compete at the North American, Central American and Caribbean (NACAC) U23 Championships on July 15-17 in the Estadio Nacional Jorge "Magico" Gonzalez in San Salvador, El Salvador. 

Representing K-State is: Christoff Bryan (Jamaica), Rene Perla (El Salvador), Ranae McKenzie (Jamaica), Ifeanyichukwu Otuonye (Turks and Caicos), Shardia Lawrence (Jamaica) Sonia Gaskin (Barbados) and Akela Jones (Barbados).

“The NACAC U23 Championships is a great opportunity for each of these athletes,” head coach Cliff Rovelto said. “The top end of virtually every event is very high quality.”

Of the group competing at the event, Jones is the only one that will also be competing later this summer at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. In El Salvador, the St. Michael, Barbados native will be competing in the high jump, long jump and 100 meter hurdles in preparation for The Games. 

Jones will compete in the high jump and heptathlon at the Olympics, events that she has won national championships in during her time at K-State. Most recently, she won the high jump crown at the NCAA Indoor Championships with a jump of 1.87/6-01.50. She also won the heptathlon national title in 2015 with a school-record score of 6,371 points.

Also competing for Barbados will be Gaskin, who will compete in the 800 meter run at the competition. Gaskin most recently competed at the Barbados National Championships, where she ran in the 400 meter dash and 800 meter run. She went on to finish third in the 400 meter dash with a time of 54.25 and second in the 800 meter run with a time of 2:07.24. 

Three of the six athletes competing this weekend will represent Jamaica at the Championships. Bryan, the 2016 NCAA Outdoor runner-up in high jump, won the Jamaican Championships in the same event with a jump of 2.25m/7-04.50, 20 centimeters better than the second place finisher. However, lacking the Olympic Standard of 2.29m/7-06, he did not qualify for Jamaica’s Olympic Team. 

Also representing Jamaica is Lawrence, twin sister of Shadae Lawrence who made the Olympic Team for their home country in the discus. Lawrence finished third in the triple jump competition at the Jamaican Championships with a personal best leap of 13.28m/43-07. She set her previous personal best of 13.19m/43-03.25 at the Big 12 Championship, which she went on to win.

The final Jamaican competing at the NACAC Championships is McKenzie, who will compete in the 400 meter hurdles during the meet. McKenzie finished third in her preliminary heat with a personal best time of 57.80 to qualify on time for the finals in the event. She would ultimately finish in seventh place in the finals, posting a time of 58.07. 

Running in the men’s 400 meter hurdles of the competition is Perla, who will be representing the host nation of El Salvador. Perla enters as the 16th seed with a time of 53.96. He also represented El Salvador mid-June at the Central American Games. 

The final athlete in the K-State contingent is Otuonye, who is coming off of an impressive performance at the British Athletics Championships. Otuonye took second in the long jump competition with a leap of 7.66m/25-01.75, but similar to Bryan, did not have the Olympic Standard in the event. 

More information on this weekend’s meet, including a complete schedule, start lists and live results, can be found by visiting the competition homepage located here

For the latest on K-State track and field, follow @kstatesports and @KStateTFXC on Twitter using the hashtag #KStateTF or on the team’s Facebook page. 

NACAC U23 Championships Participants
Christoff Bryan – High Jump (Jamaica)
Rene Perla – 400 Meter Hurdles (El Salvador)
Ranae McKenzie – 400 Meter Hurdles (Jamaica)
Ifeanyichukwu Otuonye – Long Jump (Turks and Caicos)
Shardia Lawrence – Triple Jump (Jamaica)
Akela Jones – High Jump, Long Jump, 100 meter hurdles (Barbados)