Stevens Jr. inches closer to Kent State triple jump record at Tennessee Relays

Kent State’s TJ Lawson jumps during the 60-meter hurdles, which he finished with a time of 8.36 seconds. Lawson placed fifth in the heptathlon at the 2018 NCAA Indoor Track and Field Championships in College Station, Texas. 

Laurene Darby

Kent State junior Craig Stevens Jr. spoke confidently after he competed at the Tennessee Relays this weekend.

“I feel very proud that my training throughout the season is paying off,” Stevens Jr. said. “I am so ecstatic that I’m seeing the results that I was hoping for.”

Stevens mark of 53 feet, 1.5 inches in the triple jump gave him second place overall at the meet — first amongst collegiate competitors — and also ranks him second in program history.

“I’m confident I can break the school’s record soon,” Stevens Jr. said.

The Flashes had two athletes place first at the Tennessee Relays this weekend.

“I feel like it’s a confidence booster from indoor season,” senior sprinter Riak Reese said. “I think I’m allowing myself to let things come more natural instead of pressing too much for it. I have a lot to work on, so it gives me the confidence of where I know I can be in the end.”

Reese placed first in the 100-meter dash with a time of 10.18 seconds and also hit a personal record. This time ranks him ninth in the country and third in Kent State program history.

“Outdoor (track) gives the chance to build on indoor since you’ve already had races under your belt,” Reese said. “For me, outdoor is my favorite, because indoor kind of gives you a good idea of where you’re at and where you can be.”

Reese also placed fourth in the 200-meter dash at 20.82 seconds.

TJ Lawson placed first in the decathlon as his outdoor season opener with 7,724 points. Lawson placed first in the decathlon long jump with a mark of 7.38 meters, as well as the shot put with a throw of 14.02 meters.

“It felt great to get outside,” Lawson said. “We’ve had a pretty rough spring in Kent, so being in the Tennessee sun definitely made the body feel good.”

Samory Fraga placed second in the long jump with a mark of 7.82 meters. This jump ranks Fraga as the school record holder for outdoor long jump. Fraga now holds both the indoor and outdoor school records.

Grace Tennant placed fourth in the women’s shot put with a mark of 15.16 meters, and Gabrielle Figueroa placed fifth in the women’s hammer throw with a 58.35-meter throw.

Ryan Looser placed fourth in the decathlon with 6,685 points, finishing first in the decathlon pole vault and third in the discus throw. Jacob Mally followed Looser in the decathlon in fifth place with 6,572 points.

In the men’s pole vault, Evan Lesnick took third place with a jump of 5.05 meters.

The Flashes return to competition April 20-21 at the Jesse Owens Classic in Columbus, Ohio.

Laurene Darby is a sports reporter. Contact her at [email protected].