This past weekend, Saturday April 14, 2012, a select few members of the University of San Francisco Track team traveled to Drake Stadium at the University of California Los Angeles to compete in the 2012 Rafer Johnson/Jackie Joyner-Kersee Invitational. The Dons had a successful trip south, winning both the Women’s 1500 meter and the Men’s 800 meter.
The five student athletes that represented the Dons in the Rafer Johnson/JJK Invitational were freshman Hillary Harris, junior Sophie Curl, junior All-American Eva Krchova, freshman Sean Gomes and sophomore Gustavo Mena.
Eva Krchova, a native of Brno, Czech Republic, was named a second team All- American after finishing 15th in the 2011 NCAA Championships 3000 meter steeplechase. This past weekend she won the 1500m with a time of 4.23.27 in her 2012 track debut.
USF Track coach Helen Lehman-Winters was very pleased with Krchova’s patience in the race and her ability to draft among the other runners until the final 400 meters, at which point she separated herself from the pack and took off for the finish line. Lehman-Winters praised Krchova saying, “Eva was very patient today and ran to win the race. She is ahead of where she was last year at this time.” Krchova currently holds the USF track record for the 1500 with a time of 4.20.43.
Also representing the women’s track team was Hillary Harris who finished 7th in the 800m. The USF freshman ran well against a field of incredibly experienced, talented runners including two-time 800m indoor champion Lacey Bleazard of Brigham Young University.
On the men’s side, USF freshman Sean Gomes took first place in the 800m with a time of 1.54.55. Sophomore middle distance runner Gustavo Mena placed 5th in the 800 with a time of 1.56.22. His personal best for the 800m is 1.54.12.
“I am very pleased with how well our team competed today”, said head coach Lehman-Winters. “ The sun was shining and we got what we needed from this meet today.”
The Rafer Johnson/Jackie Joyner-Kersee Invitational is named after two of the top athletes to attend UCLA. Rafer Johnson competed in his first meet for UCLA in 1954. In 1956 he qualified for the decathlon and long jump events for the Summer Olympics in Melbourne. Unfortunately an injury caused him to forfeit his place in the long jump, but he still managed to take second place in the decathlon, despite the handicap. Johnson would go on to win the world record in the decathlon in the 1958 and 1960 Olympics. While at UCLA Johnson was also a starter on the basketball team under renowned coach John Wooden.
Similar to Johnson, Jackie Joyner-Kersee also starred in track & field as well as basketball at UCLA from 1980-1985. She went on to win three gold, one silver and two bronze Olympic Medals in the women’s heptathlon and long jump. Both Johnson and Joyner-Kersee were in attendance and honored at the event on Saturday.
The Dons track team will return to action on April 19, as a group of distance runners will compete in the Mt. Sac Invitational. The rest of the team will travel to UC Davis to run in the Woody Wilson Invite on Saturday April 21.