Lady phenoms make VCU history

Sterling Giles
Contributing Writer

After a strong showing at this year’s USA Outdoor Track & Field Championships in Sacramento, California, sprinter Kiarra Porter and thrower Jalessa Williams firmly established themselves as some of the best athletes in program history in their respective events.

Porter posted a top-12 performance in the 400-meter dash, which earned her a spot on the Team USA U-23 squad set to compete at the North American, Central American and Caribbean Championships (NACAC) Championships in Kamloops, Canada set for early August. This berth marks the second time in Porter’s career that she has represented the USA on the international stage; the first was at the 2012 International association of Athletics Federation (IAAF) World Championships in Barcelona, Spain.

The Yorktown, Virginia native was honored to lace up once again for her country.

“I’m excited to continue my season and represent the USA again in the NACAC Under 23 later this summer in August,” Porter said.

Porter’s career continues as Williams’ record setting collegiate run comes to a close.

Despite fouling twice to start the meet, the Virginia Beach, Virginia native launched a 52.29-meter (184’8”) throw, which granted her a spot in the discus final. Williams joined elite company with this berth as only two other collegians prior to her have accomplished this feat. Williams delivered another huge throw of 57.32-meter (188’1”), earning her a top-eight finish at the meet.

“This season showed me just how much hard work can pay off in the end,” Williams said. Standing as an All-American again and being a part of the US Championship.”

A couple weeks prior to the USA Outdoor Championships, the duo also competed at the NCAA Outdoor Championships which took place in Eugene, Oregon Porter placed eighth overall in the 400-meter dash final with a time of 52.80. In what was labeled one of the fastest 400-meter dash finals in NCAA history, the champion of the event was University of Texas’ Courtney Okolo, who posted a blistering time of 50.23.

With her podium finish, Porter became the first sprinter in VCU history to receive first-team All-American honors. This also marked the third time in Porter’s career that she has earned All-American honors.  Additionally, this feat is second all-time behind Maria Elena Calle, renowned VCU distance runner, who has received this distinction four times.

In addition to her strong showings at the NCAA Championships, Porter holds multiple school records and has even competed at the 2012 IAAF World Junior Championships, helping the USA 4x400m relay team garner a gold medal.

She is a five-time Atlantic 10 Conference champion with victories in the outdoor 200 meter dash and the outdoor 4x100m and 4x400m meter relay teams. She has also earned the NCAA Honorable Mention All-American honor in 2013 for the 400-meter dash. She has achieved the NCAA Academic All-American status twice and several A-10 Conference Athlete of the Week honors. Porter now holds the indoor school records in the 60-meter, 200-meter, 400-meter and 500-meter dashes, and the outdoor records in the 200-meter and 400-meter dashes. Additionally, she is a member of the fastest 4x100m relay team and the indoor and outdoor 4x400m relay teams in program history.

On the field event side, Williams dominates in every sense of the word. Williams has the school record in every throwing event, both indoors and outdoors.

With her second consecutive appearance to the NCAA Outdoor Championships dating back to the 2012-2013 season, Williams was coming off a personal best after throwing 57.97 meters (190’2”) in the discus at the 2014 NCAA East Preliminary Round.

Williams came just short of a spot on the podium with a ninth place finish at this year’s NCAA Outdoor Championships. She threw 53.03m (174’), which denied her from being first-team All-American by a single inch.

“I can’t say enough about how great of a senior year and a career this has been for Jalessa,” Throws Coach Ethan Tussing said. “However, our insides are all ripped out a little right now to get here and end up so close in our final opportunity.”

For her collegiate career, Williams holds six conference titles and is the first thrower in program history to receive All-American honors, having received this distinction twice. Also, William’s ninth-place finish this year makes her the first thrower in VCU history to earn a top-10 finish at the NCAA Championships.

Regardless whether the duo decides to compete professionally after college, both have done enough to distinguish themselves as some of the best track and field athletes to ever put on a VCU uniform. Although Williams’ collegiate career has come to a close, Porter plans to sustain her dominance on the track in her final year of eligibility.

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