PNG athlete earns ‘All American Honours’ in long jump

BRADENTON, Fla. – Rellie Kaputin entered Thursday's long jump competition at the NCAA Division II Outdoor Track & Field Championships ranked 13th in the nation but walked away as an All-American after finishing sixth out of field of 22 athletes.


The junior from Papa New Guinea became the first All-American for West Texas A&M at the 2016 edition of the championships breaking the school record in the process. Her jump of 20-5 (6.22m) on her fourth attempt was good enough to put her on the podium for the first time in her career.

"Rellie was outstanding today," WT head coach Darren Flowers said.

"After entering the finals with the ninth-best mark, you could tell that she was going to do something special. She is a competitor in every aspect of the word and we are proud that she is a part of the WT program."

Kaputin was the last jumper to qualify for the finals after jumping 19-9 (6.02m) during her second attempt of the competition. Her placing in the event quickly changed with her fourth jump of 20-5 (6.22m). She now owns three of the four longest jumps in school history. Her weekend is just getting started as she will compete in two more events this weekend with the triple jump tomorrow afternoon and the high jump on Saturday.

Kaputin wasn't the only WT athlete to earn All-American honors as Lacy Harris finished ninth in the pole vault to earn Second Team honors. Harris had a great day in the pole vault finishing ninth after clearing 12-7.5 (3.85m) on her second attempt. The junior cleared the opening height of 11-11.75 (3.65m) on her first attempt before clearing 12-3.50 (3.75m) and 12-7.5 (3.85m) on her second attempt.

The women's 4x100-meter relay finished third in the first heat running 45.87 as they advanced to Saturday's final. The quartet of Jasmine Pitts, Bri Leeper, Libby Strickland and Shanice Cameron safely guided the baton across the track running the seventh-fastest time of the prelims.

Strickland had a busy afternoon as she competed in the long jump and 100-metre dash after running the third leg on the 4x100. The Amarillo native finished 11th in the preliminaries of the 100 running 11.91 before hurrying back over the pit to start jumping with the rest of her flight. She jumped 19-2.5 (5.85m) on her second attempt as she finished 16th.  Cameron finished 15th in the 100-metre dash after running 12.02 in the third heat out of lane two.

The Buffs had an equally impressive day as Tobia Lahbi and Daniely Gyasi ran two of the the fastest times in the past three decades in their respective events to advance to the finals. Labhi dominated his heat running 51.48 in the 400-metre hurdles while Gyasi battled with Angelo State's Luis Perez until the final metres in the 400-metres.

Lahbi ran the third-fastest time in school history and fastest since 1986 and broke his own freshman record. He will enter the finals having run the fourth-fastest times during the prelims. Gyasi ran a balanced race to run the fastest 400-meters time since Earl Wilson ran 45.88 in 1982 and now owns three of the six fastest times in school history.

The men's 4x100-metre relay of Theo Piniau, Todd Handley, Trevor Dennis and Gyasi narrowly missed on the final finishing ninth running 40.69.

Blake Whalen was the lone Buff to compete in a final on Thursday night as he finished 14th in the 10,000-metres running 31:34.34 in windy, humid conditions. That is the seventh-fastest time in school history as the Dubuque, Iowa native now holds fourth of the fastest times in school history.