DENTON, Texas (4/15/09) For the second consecutive week, the North Texas track and field team had two athletes rewarded by the Sun Belt Conference as Performers of the Week. This time the honors went to junior sprinter Ciara Smith and junior long jumper Ashley Austin.
Smith had a season-best performance at the Texas Tech Twilight Invitational last Thursday when she set two NCAA Regional qualifying marks in the 200-meter and 400-meter dash respectively. Smith won the 200-meter dash in a time of 23.95, which is the leading mark in the Sun Belt Conference. She also finished second in the 400-meter dash with a tie of 53.59, also the tops in the conference.
“It’s good to Ciara running like we’re accustomed to,” North Texas head coach Rick Watkins said. “She’s been running very good over the past few weeks and building up her strength.”
Smith, who missed most of the indoor season due to injury, advanced to the NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championship last season in the 400-meter dash.
Austin, a San Antonio, Texas native, broke through with her best jump of the season at the Texas Twilight Invitational, winning the long jump competition with an NCAA Regional qualifying jump of 19-09.75. The jump ranks as second in the Sun Belt Conference.
“Ashley’s been improving all season,” Watkins said. “It was good for her to get that regional mark out of the way. The good thing is I don’t think she’s done.”
Smith and Austin became the eighth different members of the North Texas track and field team that have won the SBC Performer of the Week throughout the indoor and outdoor season.
North Texas will be back in action this Saturday when they travel to Baylor to compete in the Baylor Michael Johnson Open.