Outdoor Track & Field Season Preview: Philander Smith
By GCAC Sports Information Director
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – All results below are from the 2019 outdoor season as 2020 was canceled due to COVID-19.
Head Coach: Chris McConnell (Fourth Season)
Top Men’s Returners:
· Noel Lyons (Sr, New Orleans, La.)
· Kameron Lewis (Sr, North Little Rock, Ark.)
· Damien Gatson (Sr, Houston, Texas)
Key Men’s Student-Athletes Lost:
· Javoquios Day (Third in GCAC in 4x100m relay / eighth in GCAC in 200m)
· Benjamin Mason (Third in GCAC in 4x100m relay / fifth in GCAC in 4x400m relay)
· Miquan Martin (Grand Prairie, Texas)
Top Men’s Newcomers:
· Desmond Merritt (Fr, Dallas, Texas)
· Miles Flood (So, Arlington, Texas)
· Hassan Elamin (Jr, Commerce City, Colo.)
Top Women’s Returners:
· Alexis Burns (Sr, Little Rock, Ark.)
· Jerrin Cooper (Sr, Long Beach, Calif.)
· Chaentra Wright (Sr, Forest City, Ark.)
Key Women’s Student-Athletes Lost:
· Brianna Alexander (GCAC Runner-Up in 4x800m relay / fourth in GCAC in 1500m / fifth in GCAC in 10,000m / seventh in GCAC in 5000m)
· Ty’Kie Singleton (GCAC Runner-Up in 4x800m relay / fourth in GCAC in 4x100m relay and 4x400m relay / eighth in GCAC in 800m)
· Zora Talbert (GCAC Runner-Up in 4x800m relay / fourth in GCAC in 800m and 4x400m relay / sixth in GCAC in 1500m)
Top Women’s Newcomers:
· Ishmia Black (Fr, Dallas, Texas)
· Graciela Gomez (So, Southgate, Calif.)
· Ayanna Allen (So, St. Louis, Mo.)
The Philander Smith College Outdoor Track & Field program did not compete last season due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Coach McConnell leads PSC in his fourth year as Head Coach, taking the green and gold to top-three finishes in the conference on a consistent basis and is coming off the school’s first ever GCAC Cross Country Championship on the men’s side as well as a Runner-Up placement for the women a few weeks ago in Clinton, Mississippi.
The Panthers brought back a trio of talented seniors in Noel Lyons, Kameron Lewis and Damien Gatson.
Lyons was nothing if not consistent for the green and yellow in 2019, claiming fourth place in the conference for the 10,000m (43:41.69), 1500m (4:45.00) and 5000m (20:04.18).
Lewis claimed a GCAC bronze medal in the high jump at 1.75m and as a part of the 4x100m relay team while also scoring eighth with a toss of 9.24m in the shot put.
Gatson was also involved in the same 4x100m relay squad as Lewis, helped the 4x400m relay team place fifth and recorded sixth place in both the 200m (22.93) as well as the long jump (6.12m).
The men will welcome aboard three newcomers who all made significant contributions for the cross country squad in the fall including freshman Desmond Merritt, sophomore Miles Flood and junior Hassan Elamin.
Merritt is the current GCAC Cross Country Individual Champion, winning the 8k in a time of 29:31.0 at Choctaw Trails on November 4.
Flood was not that far behind, slotting in at fifth (31:47.0). He racked up the accolades in high school as he was an All-Region Qualifier, a UIL Area 4-6A Qualifier, a Texas State Qualifier and received a plaque on the city of Arlington, Texas’ Wall of Fame.
Elamin made a solid impression in his first action of the year, ranking inside the top-15 at the Cross Country Championships at a clip of 33:24.8.
The Lady Panthers will also welcome back three high-quality seniors from a year ago as Alexis Burns, Jerrin Cooper and Chaentra Wright return to Little Rock.
Burns guided her 4×100 relay teams to a time of 51.10 seconds to rank among the NAIA’s top-90 fastest events while garnering fourth at the conference championships with a 51.85 mark.
Cooper was the 2019 GCAC Champion in the hammer throw (25.78m), the Runner-Up for the discus throw (33.32m) and earned the bronze medal for the shot put (10.26m).
Wright finished in third place with a hammer throw of 22.43m and came in seventh for the shot put with a throw of 9.06m.
The women’s side will get a notable boost from sophomore JUCO transfer Graciela Gomez, standout freshman Ishmia Black and sophomore rising star Ayanna Allen.
Black earned the distinction of being the 2020 GCAC Cross Country Runner-Up, being barely edged out by Xavier’s Jaylyn Jenkins despite logging a 22:04.2 time.
Gomez, a Compton College transfer, placed fifth at the same Cross Country Championship event (23:09.6) after being named Freshman of the Year and October Student-Athlete of the Month in 2019 while at Compton.
Allen is presently a team captain and logged a top-15 finish in the GCAC Cross Country Championships at a clip of 24:52.5.
PSC does not currently have its schedule posted on its athletics website.