Indiana All-American jumper Paola Fernandez-Sola stepped her game up.
Last season, during the first weekend of April, she fought through the wind and sleet to earn a second-place finish of 6.08 in the long jump at the Tennessee Relays. Yesterday at the Tennessee Invite, held on the same track in Knoxville, she fought through moderate rain and chilly conditions to hit a winning mark of 6.49. The San Juan, Puerto Rico native dominated the competition finishing well ahead of runner-up Lynnika Vance of Middle Tennessee (6.03) and the field of 37 competitors. In fact, Fernandez-Sola could've won the competition on her second jump of 6.26 which was her third best mark of the day.
Fernandez-Sola's effort at the Tennessee Invite was her second-best collegiate mark. Her career best jump came at the Indiana Invitational when she hit a mark of 6.61 during, April 22, 2022. She went on to capture the bronze medal at the Big Ten outdoor meet before placing 14th at the NCAA Championships. During this year's indoor season, she fared better with a second place Big Ten performance and a top-nine finish at the NCAA indoor meet.
Big South champ Ash wins 400-hurdles
Charleston Southern's Jewel Ash took care of business on the track yesterday at the Tennessee Invite.
When the Vorhees, New Jersey native crossed the finish line during the 400-meter hurdles, winning at 57.72, she had run a sub 58-second time for the fourth time in her career. The last time Ash finished under 58 seconds was May 11, 2022, when she won the Big South championship in the event. Prior to the start of the day only 19 NCAA competitors had run faster times this season.
Ash is the back-to-back 400-meter hurdles champion of the Big South Conference. At the Tennessee Invite, in Knoxville she defeated a field of 15 competitors, which included runner-up Kyla Robinson-Hubbard of Tennessee who finished at 57.87 and Cincinnati's Nyile Facey's third place time of 1:01.40. Robinson-Hubbard earned All-American Honorable Mention All-American honors last season in the 1,600-meter relay. Her performance in the 400-meter hurdles at the Tennessee Invite was a personal best.
Facey was a former Big South foe of Ash. In the past, the two have battled over conference championships when Facey competed at High Point from 2018-2022. In 2021, Facey topped runner-up Ash in the 100-meter hurdles at the Big South Championships. Ash returned the favor by beating runner-up Facey in the 400-meter hurdles at the same meet. They also met in the 400-meter hurdles final last season in at the Big South Championships as Facey placed eighth in Ash's successful gold medal defense.
Bushay sets personal best time in 200 meters win
Cincinnati's Jayda Bushay ran a career best time in the 200 meters taking a win on opening day of the Tennessee Invite.
On a chilly evening, the freshman sprinter from Miami, Florida fought through the temperature that was in the low 50s and a wet track to finish at 23.88. She beat her previous best time of 24.39, which she recorded during indoor season at the Doc Hale VT Meet in Blacksburg, Virginia. This was her second 200 meters outdoor win in as many attempts. She won her first outdoor collegiate 200 meters race last weekend during the Oliver Nikoloff Invitational which was held at Cincinnati.
Bushay placed ahead of Tennessee's Jonah Ross' time of 24.07. Ross is in her first season at Tennessee. She previously was an All-American as a sprinter at North Carolina A&T. Bushay's teammate Alicia Thorpe was third at 24.22. Tomorrow Thorpe will attempt to win the 400 meters on the Tennessee track for the second straight year as she captured a victory last season in the event at the Tennessee Relays.
Bushay is on a three-race win streak. Along with winning her last couple of 200 meters races, she also won a 100 meters competition at the Oliver Nikoloff meet. These are the first three wins of her collegiate career as well.