All-Americans At Last


John Nepolitan

UDI Alfred Chawonza outkicking the field to lead the Gray Bees to a second place finish in the 4×800-meter relay at New Balance Nationals.

Othman Muhammad, Online Editor

After a four year drought, the Gray Bee track team reclaimed its glory by crowning four All-Americans in the 4×800-meter relay at New Balance Nationals, March 9-12.

The relay consisting of UDI Ronald Kigen, senior Byron Simmons, senior Adrian Ceballo and UDI Alfred Chawonza sparked a comeback which lead the relay to its All-American finish.

Ronald ran the leadoff leg and put the team in a difficult position. He split 2 minutes and 5 seconds and exchanged the baton to Byron in second to last place. Despite being 10 seconds behind the race’s leaders, Byron kept composure and managed to close a 20 meter gap from the chase pack. Byron’s 1:55.12 leg put the team back into contention, and allowed Adrian to build off the momentum. Adrian split a 1:57, and exchanged the baton to Alfred in seventh.

In four laps, Alfred ran the race of a lifetime. During the first half of his anchor leg, Alfred closed the gap with the race’s leaders. At 600-meters Alfred put the team in sixth place, and during the final lap Alfred made a move with 100 meters left which placed the team in second.

The top six finishers at New Balance Nationals earn the title “All-American.” With the second place time of 7:50.48, members of the Gray Bee 4×800-meter relay became All-Americans.

Alfred’s impressive performance would not stop in the 4×800-meter relay because with less than 24 hours of recovery he would return to compete in the individual 800-meter race and the 4×400-meter relay.

In the individual 800-meter race, Alfred lead from start to finish. He won the second heat with a time of 1:53.65. Despite winning his heat, the third heat ran faster times than Alfred. Overall, Alfred finished seventh missing the All-American standard by .10 seconds.

The 4×400-meter relay featuring senior Byron Simmons, UDII Kaylan Depas, UDI Elijah Allen-Smith and UDI Alfred Chawonza won the second heat of the 4×400-meter relay with a time of 3:22.23. Overall, the team finished ninth, and missed the All-American standard by two seconds.

With the Outdoor Track season starting four weeks away, the Gray Bees are optimistic and determined to build off a successful Indoor season finish.

“Outdoors we are hoping to continue to put our program on the map nationally in all specialities springs, mid/long distance, and throws,” Distance Coach David Alfano said. “We want to bring as many people as possible to the outdoor nationals down in North Carolina, and to Penn Relays.”