COLLEGE STATION, Texas – On Saturday, Stephen F. Austin's Demi Payne continues to make quite a splash for the Lumberjacks early in the 2015 track and field season, setting an NCAA indoor pole vaulting record at the Texas A&M Track Invitational.
Payne cleared 4.63 meters (15-2 ¼ feet), breaking the previous NCAA mark of 4.61 meters set just Friday by Arkansas' Sandi Morris. The previous mark before Friday was 4.60 meters, held by Texas' Kaitlin Peetrillose. Payne nearly added to her NCAA record, just missing clearing 4.65 meters (15-3) on her three attempts.
Payne, who transferred to SFA after earning All-America honors at Kansas, has burst onto the scene through her first two meets as a Ladyjack. Last week in Akron, Ohio, Payne broke the program's indoor pole vault record at 4.30m (14' 1¼"), shattering the previous women's mark of 4.09m (13' 5¼") – a record that stood for nearly 14 years.
Two other Lumberjacks left College Station with individual crowns on Saturday. In a 25-man field, distance runner Charles Mathenge crossed the finish line first in the 3,000 meters with a winning time of 8:25.36. The win was Mathenge's first since transferring to SFA prior to the 2014-15 school year.
Fresh off his first place showing at the Arkansas Invitational, senior sprinter Cass Brown-Stewart kept up the momentum with another impressive time in the 400 meter dash. He outran the field boasting a 47.11 second mark to claim his second individual title in the 2015 indoor season in as many meets.
Freshman My'Lik Kerley came in just off Brown-Stewart's pace in the 400m, running his way to a fourth place finish with a 48.04 mark. Anthony Gallardo ran with Mathenge in the 3,000m and took fourth overall (8:35.00).
In the first scored team event for SFA this season, both the men and women placed near the top of talented fields. The men took third overall as a team with 89 points behind host Texas A&M (163 points) and Texas State (92 points). The Ladyjacks came in fourth as a team with 81 total points on the day. Baylor won the team title on the women's side with 118.5 points while Texas A&M (102 points) and Texas State (96 points) also edged SFA.
Other notable individual performances include La'Tricia Griffin's 17.77-meter toss in the women's weight throw. Her effort was good enough for runner-up honors in the event. Fresh off his personal best height in the Akron Pole Vault Convention last week, senior Cameron Meyer claimed second in the men's pole vault on Saturday afternoon, surpassing 5.25m.
Jumpers Trey Darty (14.04m) and Jamal Peden (7.32m) each had good afternoons taking fourth in the triple jump and long jump, respectively. Senior DeJernel Jordan and sophomore Courtney High each grabbed fourth place finishes as well – Jordan in the 800m (2:15.81) and High in the 3,000m (10:06.52).
Other distance specialists, Josh Torres and Katrina Fite, earned points in the 5,000m. Fite went out in 18:31.10 and Torres ran in 15:04.03 to go second and third for SFA.
Both the men's and women's 4x400 meter relay teams capped the day's events with third place races. Brown-Stewart, Kerley, Shawn Goff and Joshua Taylor completed their race in 3:10.53 while Dar'Keisha Tryon,Brarysheyia Simpson, Cierra Jefferson and Jessica Hatchett brought in a 3:43.30 mark for the women.
The SFA track and field teams will have next weekend off before returning to action for the Howie Ryan Invitational in Houston from Jan. 30-31.