Three all-Americans shine for Flashes at NCAA meet

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

Sophomore TJ Lawson earned his spot as a first team all-American after placing fifth in the men’s heptathlon at the 2018 NCAA Indoor Track and Field Championships.

“Earning first team all-American was a huge honor and accomplishment for myself and Kent State,” Lawson said. “I’m happy to check first team off my list of goals.”

Lawson started the competition with the 60-meter dash and placed 13th. The long jump followed, in which Lawson placed sixth with a distance of 7.40 meters. Lawson then won the shot put with a 14.46-meters throw. Scoring 822 points, Lawson tied for sixth place in the high jump with three other athletes.

With a time of 8.36 seconds in the 60-meter hurdles, Lawson tied for 10th and gained 893 points. Lawson then tied for fourth in the pole vault with 837 points. At 2:40.89, Lawson placed seventh in the 1,000-meter run, adding 864 points.

Lawson finished the heptathlon with 5,934 points and set two personal records (PRs) in the pole vault and 1,000-meter run.

“There was lots of ups and downs throughout the multi, but I was able to fight back with two lifetime PRs on day two to put me back into fifth place,” Lawson said.

Craig Stevens Jr. finished 14th in the triple jump at a distance of 15.70 meters.

“I didn’t have my best performance, but I competed to the best of my best ability,” Stevens Jr. admitted. “It was a good learning experience.”

In the women’s weight throw, Gabby Figueroa placed 14th with a throw of 20.30 meters.

Figueroa and Stevens both picked up second team all-American honors.

“Meets like this are about being able to compete well on the day of,” Figueroa said. “It took me everything I had to qualify. I threw right around where my average has been this season. I have thrown the weight for eight years now. I’m satisfied with my career.”

Being the last meet of indoor eligibility for Figueroa, she admitted that she was happy that it was a national competition.

“It’s now time for outdoor,” Figueroa said. “This is my last season of eligibility, but I have one more year of school. I’ll continue to train and when I graduate, I’ll teach. Only the Lord really knows what I’ll be doing, though.”

The Kent State track and field teams are set to compete in their first outdoor meet at the Texas Relays on March 28-31 in Austin, Texas.

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