NEWPORT NEWS, Va. – It was an historic afternoon for Penn State Harrisburg's men's and women's track & field programs, as the Lions wrapped up competition at the 2019 Capital Athletic Conference (CAC) Indoor Championships on Saturday with three major awards, an all-time best team finish for the men and the highest point total ever tallied by the women.
Rae Rae Taylor was named the CAC Women's Athlete of the Year, Jalil Clayton earned CAC Men's Athlete of the Year honors and Danielle Lynch was voted the CAC Women's Coach of the Year by her peers. The men's squad's third-place finish is the best in the program's short history, while the women have never scored more points as a team than they did this weekend.
"I believe in my staff and my athletes do as well," said Lynch about her program's incredible weekend. "We created a plan, executed it to the best of our ability and we were successful this season. The total team execution was stellar. My staff is the best I know and I am thankful for their effort, sacrifice and most of all trust in me."
Taylor's versatility was on full display, with the sophomore picking up her second CAC Title in as many days when she won gold in the triple jump, securing first-team all-conference recognition in the process. She also added bronze in both the high jump and 60m dash after competing in the 60m hurdles, shot put and 200m dash as well. As an individual, Taylor racked up an incredible 45 points on the weekend.
One year after earning CAC Rookie of the Year honors, the other half of the women's dynamic duo in Sarah Lehman turned in another impressive championship effort. The sophomore secured silver in the triple jump to earn a spot on the all-conference second-team. Lehman also put her versatility to good use, finishing fifth in the 60m hurdles before joining Taylor, sophomore Neeyah Turner and freshman Sephora Senestant for 4x400m relay action. The foursome closed out the weekend with a bang, combining for a thrilling runner-up finish that earned all four competitors second-team all-conference honors in the event.
Freshman Aiyala McPhee added valuable points for the women in the 200m and 60m dashes, helping the Blue & White to 82 overall points; the highest total ever recorded by the program at a CAC Championship outing. The efforts of Taylor, Lehman, McPhee, Turner, Senestant and the rest under the guidance of their head coach paved the way for Lynch to earn the first major award of her young career.
On the men's side, it was Clayton playing the role of Swiss army knife. On Saturday, he clinched a conference title in the 60m hurdles and picked up All-CAC First-Team honors in the process. He added a second-team all-conference accolade thanks to winning silver in the 200m dash. Clayton collected bronze in the 400m dash before closing out his weekend alongside Dominick Hogans, Mekael Kassu and Jerome Jackson in the 4x400m relay. Individually, the senior racked up 36 points during the two-day meet in a variety of events.
A silver medal and second-team all-conference honors in the 60m hurdles went to sophomore Shammah Gahomera, while it was senior Cameron Yon getting it done in the throwing circle. One day after winning bronze in the weight throw, he added another third-place finish in the shot put. Fresh off his conference title in the high jump and bronze in the long jump the night before, junior Alex White snagged vital points with a fourth-place finish in the triple jump. Hogans also came through by picking up points in both the 60m and 400m dashes. In the end, the Lions tallied 94 points as a squad to earn the highest finish at a CAC Championship event in program history.
With the most successful CAC Championships in school history in the books, a number of Penn State Harrisburg student-athletes will gear up for the Eastern College Athletic Conference (ECAC) Division III Championships at The Armory in New York City in two weeks. Day one of the two-day event is set for Friday, March 1.
2019 ALL-CAC HONORS
Jalil Clayton (60m hurdles*)
Alex White (high jump*)
Jalil Clayton (200m dash)
Shammah Gahomerah (60m hurdles)
Rae Rae Taylor (long jump*, triple jump*)
Sarah Lehman (long jump, triple jump, 4x400m relay)
Sephora Senestant (4x400m relay)
Rae Rae Taylor (4x400m relay)
Neeyah Turner (4x400m relay)
* CAC Champion