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TAMUC – Sports

Lion men secure a podium finish; Lion women record program-best finish at NCAA National Championships.

ALLENDALE, Mich. – The Texas A&M University-Commerce, track & field teams capped off a historic NCAA Division II National Championships with a fourth-place finish on the men’s side and a program-best eighth-place finish on the women’s side on Saturday at the Grand Valley State University Lacrosse/Track & Field Stadium. 

The top four teams at the NCAA National Championships reach the podium and receive a trophy. After knocking on the door a few times on the men’s side, the Lions won the trophy with a fourth-place finish. The Lion men totaled 48 points, the program’s second-most points in the national meet, behind the runner-up finish in 1985. 

J.T. Smith (Klein Oak) edged out Lane’s Ojoshua Bunton by 0.01 seconds to win the 100-meter dash National Championship. With the national titles from Ushan Perera (Mahabage, Sri Lanka) and Moaz Ibrahim (Cairo, Egypt) on Friday, the Lions tied the 1959 NAIA national runner-up team and the 1985 NCAA Division II national runner-up team with three national championships. 

Smith is the first National Champion for the Lions in the 100-meter dash since Bobby Bankston in 1986. 

The Lion women’s program had just one national championship in program history, Jackie Alford, in the heptathlon in 1990. Candesha Scott (St. David, Grenada) won the javelin with 179 feet 10 inches (54.82m) which is the new school record and third in NCAA Division II history. Minna Svaerd (Karlstad, Sweden) won the 400-meter hurdles with a school-record time of 57.33 seconds. 

The Lion women totaled 26 points, the program’s first-ever top 10 finish as they placed eighth.

Ibrahim, Perera crowned National Champions, Lion men in first place heading into Saturday.

ALLENDALE, Mich. – In three hours on Friday at the Grand Valley State Lacrosse/Track & Field Stadium, the Texas A&M University-Commerce men’s track & field team tallied 27 points on the team standings. They led the Division II National Championships after two of three days. The Lion women head into the final day with four top-seeded marks. 

Moaz Ibrahim (Cairo, Egypt) broke the school record in the men’s discus with a mark of 200 feet 10 inches (61.21m), the new Division II National Championships meet record and fourth all-time in Division II history. He achieved the mark in his third throw. In the last three men’s discus championships contested, the Lions have two national championships and one runner-up finish. 

Ushan Perera (Mahabage, Sri Lanka) became the first student-athlete in school history with four National Championships by winning the high jump crown once again. He cleared 7 feet 3.75 inches (2.22m), while Justin Lewis (Lynn. Mass.) and Dakari Hill (Orlando, Fla.) tied for fifth by clearing 7 feet one inch (2.16m). It is the first time Lewis and Hill reached the podium in their careers. 

The Lions’ 27 points are atop the team leaderboard, the top five on the men’s side heading into Saturday.

 

They punched five tickets for finals on Day 1 of the NCAA National Championships.

ALLENDALE, Mich. – J.T. Smith and Delan Edwin went 1-2 in their heat for the 100-meter dash prelims on Thursday. They highlighted four individuals and one relay team from the Texas A&M University-Commerce track & field teams punching their tickets into the finals at the NCAA Division II National Championships inside the Grand Valley State Lacrosse/Track & Field Stadium. 

MEN

Cameron Macon (Dallas – Carter), Emmanuel Agenor (Spanishtown, Jamaica), J.T. Smith (Klein Oak), and Delan Edwin (Castries, Saint Lucia) timed 39.90 seconds in the 4×100 meter relay to qualify for Saturday’s finals. 

Smith and Edwin went 1-2 in their heat for the 100-meter dash to qualify for the finals. Smith matched his career-best time of 10.24 seconds, and Edwin timed 10.34 seconds. 

Elmar Schutte (Pretoria, South Africa) was not able to clear his first height of 16 feet 4.75 inches (5.0 m) in the pole vault, and Chandler King (Hughes Springs) jumped 23 feet 9.5 inches (7.25m) in the long jump to place 13th. The men’s pole vault and long jump were the only two finals events that the Lions competed in on Thursday. 

WOMEN

Mariana Shostak (Lviv, Ukraine) clocked in 53.75 seconds to punch her ticket for the 400-meter dash finals. Likewise, Minna Svaerd (Karlstad, Sweden) ran the fastest time in the 400-meter hurdles prelims, 57.75 seconds, to qualify for Saturday’s finals. 

Youn can find results HERE. 

FRIDAY’S SCHEDULE

The Lions have two more finals events on the men’s side on Friday and enter the National Championships with the No. 1 seed marks in both events. The preliminary races on the track continue on Friday evening.

Student-Athlete/Relay Team Event Time (CDT)
Moaz Ibrahim Men’s Discus (Finals) 1 p.m.
Dakari HillJustin Lewis, and Ushan Perera Men’s High Jump (Finals) 2:30 p.m.
Delan Edwin and J.T. Smith Men’s 200 meter dash (Prelims) 4:30 p.m.
Cameron Macon Men’s 110 meter hurdles (Prelims) 5:35 p.m.
Naomi NdukweSofia KhenfarMariana ShostakMinna Svaerd Women’s 4×400 meter relay (Prelims) 7:10 p.m.

 

Burton tabs Gerald Ewing as Lion Women’s Basketball Assistant Coach.

COMMERCE – Texas A&M University-Commerce women’s basketball coach Jason Burton welcomes veteran coach Gerald Ewing to Commerce as an assistant coach.  

Ewing, an A&M-Commerce alum, brings over 25 plus years of coaching experience. His most recent stop was as an assistant coach and recruiting coordinator at UT-Arlington before moving east to Commerce. 

Before his time at UTA, Ewing had a six-year stint as the head coach at Trinity Valley Community College in Athens, TX. The Lady Cards advanced to the NJCAA National Championship game three times and the semifinals two additional times during his six seasons as the head coach. 

“We are excited to bring in a veteran coach of Gerald’s caliber to our staff. He is someone I’ve known for years, who has always had played a similar style of play as A&M-Commerce has always won at a high level,” said Burton. 

“He is well respected in this business by his peers and well-loved by his former players. His wealth of knowledge and his network will be huge assets to our program in helping us maintain what has already been built here as we transition to Division I. More than that, he is a man of character and someone who will represent this university with class and positively impact our student-athletes.” 

During the 2020-21 COVID season at UTA, the team finished 13-7 with Ewing working with the guard position and also as the program’s recruiting and defensive coordinator. 

 “I want to thank Jason Burton for giving me the opportunity to work here at Texas A&M Commerce,” said Ewing. “I am extremely excited to be a part of this staff and program as we go thru the transition from NCAA DII to DI.” 

“I have had the pleasure of watching Coach Burton and his staff create a winning culture here, and ready to be a part of something special. The administration, campus support, and students are amazing here, and I know personally that’s what it takes and needed to recruit, compete and be successful on and off the court.” 

Ewing was in Athens for eight years, serving as the assistant coach for Trinity Valley Community College for two years and the head coach for his final six seasons. The Lady Cards posted a 168-26, including 124-20 in his last four seasons. Trinity Valley played 21 NJCAA Tournament games with Ewing at the program’s helm and went 16-5 in those games, winning two regional titles and five conference titles. 

As an assistant coach at Trinity Valley under Hall of Fame Coach Elena Lovato, the Lady Cards went 72-1 and won back-to-back National Championships in 2013-2014. In addition, several players that he coached in Athens went on to play at the power-five level, including standout Adut Bulgak, the NJCAA National Player of the Year, who attended Florida State and was a first-round pick in the (WNBA) draft. 

Other notable players that he mentored at Trinity Valley are Krystle Henderson (University of Texas), Shannon Smith (University of Michigan), Shlonte’ Allen (Texas A&M University), Christalah Lyons (Kansas University), Shakeela Fowler (University of Dayton), Mercedes Brooks (LSU), Michal Miller (Wright State University) as well as NJCAA All-Americans Jazmine Spears (Mississippi State University), Maya Singleton (St. John’s University), Naomi Davenport (West Virginia University), Curtessia Dean (Seton Hall University). 

Ewing’s coaching awards include being named District L Coach of the Year in 2015, Region 14 Coach of the Year in 2016, District F Coach of the Year in 2017, TABC Coach of the Year in 2017 and 2019, and the 2018 WBCA Regional Coach of the Year. 

Before his time in Athens, he was an assistant coach at Johnson County Community College in Overland Park, KS, for four seasons. Johnson County won more games in those four years than any other period in school history. In addition, he coached and mentored 10 NJCAA All-Americans while winning four regional titles and three district titles and finished in the top 10 in NJCAA three times. He was also the academic liaison with JCCC women’s basketball program completing top ten in the country three times during his time there. 

Ewing went to JCCC after spending thirteen seasons at George Washington High School in Chicago, IL. He compiled a 120-60 record in his six seasons as head coach, resulting in playoff appearances and a city championship in 2007.

He was named the Illinois Basketball Coaches Association District 3 ‘Coach of the Year’ in 2007 and 2008. He also was bestowed the 2007 Illinois Times Newspaper Coach of the Year and named the Chicago Public Schools Coaches Association Coach of the Year in 2004, 2007, and 2008.

As an assistant coach at George Washington High School, Ewing was the top assistant for Chicago Public School Hall of Fame coach Willie Byrd for seven seasons and helped lead them to a 33-5 record, a city championship, and a second-place finish in the state in 2000.

Ewing also was successful in helping his players advance to the next level, with 95% of the athletes he coached going on to play collegiate basketball. NCAA Division I standout player Angelina Williams (University of Illinois, WNBA Champion Detroit Shock) and Leslie Hill (University of Minnesota) were some players he mentored during their tenure at GWHS.

Ewing graduated with his bachelor’s degree in Organizational Leadership from A&M Commerce. 

A native of Chicago, Ewing’s immediate family still resides in the Windy City.

 

Iniuto Ukpong selected to CoSIDA Academic All-District team

COMMERCE – Texas A&M University-Commerce women’s track and field scholar-athlete Iniuto Ukpong has been selected to the Academic All-District team as chosen by the College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA). 

Ukpong (Arlington – Mansfield Summit) specializes in the throws for the Lions and received Lone Star Conference All-Academic honors for both the indoor and outdoor seasons this year. She was also named the Women’s Indoor Track & Field Academic Athlete of the Year by the LSC. 

She was selected to the all-Lone Star Conference teams for the Indoor Track & Field Championships and the Outdoor Track & Field Championships, throwing both the hammer and the shot put. 

Ukpong is health, kinesiology, and sports studies major. She has achieved President’s List honors three times in her career, was recognized as a Best In Class scholar three times, and was named to the Lion Honor Roll three times. 

This year, she is now the sixth student-athlete from A&M-Commerce to receive Academic All-District honors from CoSIDA. She joins Alex Shillow from the football team, Kara Blasingame from the soccer team, Emily Otto and Madison Schaefer from the softball team, and Sophie-Charlott Hempel from the women’s golf team.

 

A&M-Commerce appoints Lion alum Haley Major as Assistant AD for Student-Athlete Success.

COMMERCE – Texas A&M University-Commerce athletics department has appointed Lion alum Haley Major as the Assistant Athletics Director for Student-Athlete Success. Major returns to Commerce following six years of experience at the Division I level. 

“We are excited to bring Haley back to Commerce at such a pivotal time for Lion Athletics,” said Interim Director of Athletics Eric Coleman. Haley’s background, specifically at the Division I level, in academic services, will be critical as we transition into the Southland Conference this fall.” 

“We are looking forward to her continuing to grow the Thrower Center for Student-Athlete Success and assisting our student-athletes in balancing their athletic, academic, and social responsibilities.” 

She arrives at Commerce following a two-year stint as an academic coordinator at the University of Colorado. Her primary sports responsibilities were select position groups for the football team and the women’s tennis teams while educating the student-athletes on academic integrity, NCAA eligibility benchmarks, and university requirements. 

“It is an exciting time for me to have the opportunity to return home and lead a department that supported me and my development when I was a student-athlete here at A&M-Commerce,” said Major. “I am excited to return to my home state and my alma mater and looking forward to further developing the student-athlete experience within the Thrower Center as we transition into Division I, which I’m very knowledgeable of, as displayed throughout my career journey.” 

“I’d like to thank all of the support staff and athletic administrators who paved the way to establish a Best in Class experience at A&M-Commerce and believe in me to serve as a leader in the athletics department.” 

A four-year letter winner for the Lion volleyball team, Major was a dean’s list recipient and named to the Lone Star Conference Commissioner’s Honor Roll. She is a 2015 inductee into the National Society of Leadership and Success (NSLS). The Euless Trinity High school graduate had a student-teaching internship and was an active member of the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC). 

In her current role with the Lions, she will oversee all student-athlete academic support functions and programs, including the operation of the Thrower Center for Student-Athlete Success. 

She received her bachelor’s degree in interdisciplinary studies from A&M-Commerce, and her Master’s in Christian Ministry from Baylor. While in Waco, she was a graduate assistant in Baylor’s Student-Athlete Center for Excellence. 

Major served as an athletic academic services intern at Texas Christian following her graduation from Baylor. She executed educational plans for 70 student-athletes on the men’s basketball, golf, and track and field teams and the women’s soccer program at TCU, including mentoring 11 at-risk student-athletes using differentiated learning tools to develop their time management skills. 

A native of Irving, Major headed to Penn State after her time in Fort Worth. For the Nittany Lions, she was an academic support assistant for the football program. Her duties in Happy Valley included developing and utilizing materials to enhance programs and services for the athletic department and the football student-athletes. She also co-taught the school’s first-year seminar and bridge programs to help athletes with the transition from high school to college. 

Major has received her Mental Health First Aid certification from the National Council for Well-Being and is a member of the Women Leaders in College Sports and the National Association of Academic and Student-Athlete Development Professionals (N4A). She is a student-athlete development programs and practices committee member and academic programs and practices committee member for the N4A. 

Major’s father, Willie, was a high school basketball teammate of former NBA player and coach Larry Drew in Kansas City. He was an accomplished track star: a member of the 1977 Adidas High School All-American Track team, he ran track (sprints and relays) at Kansas State University and was a member of the world’s top 10 ranked 4×400 relay squad.

 

Lion Track & Field teams primed for the National Championships.

COMMERCE – The Texas A&M University-Commerce track and field teams compete in the Division II National Championships in Allendale, Michigan, this weekend with their eyes set on the podium. Both teams enter the national championships rated in the top 10 in the country.

The action begins at the Grand Valley State Lacrosse/Track & Field Stadium on Thursday afternoon, with the Lions competing in two finals events and several preliminary races. More events follow on Friday, with the final day of the championships being on Saturday. 

WATCH (DAY 1): https://www.ncaa.com/event/4205

LIVE RESULTS: https://results.leonetiming.com/?mid=4919 

MEN

The Lion men have three marks seeded No. 1 in the country heading into nationals. Ushan Perera (Mahabage, Sri Lanka) is the national leader in the high jump and can become the first student-athlete in school history with four national championships, Moaz Ibrahim (Cairo, Egpyt) is the leader in the discus. The 4×100 meter relay team of J.T. Smith (Klein Oak), Delan Edwin (Castries, Saint Lucia), Andre Norman (Celina), and Cameron Macon (Dallas – Carter) is first in the nation as well. 

Elmar Schutte (Pretoria, South Africa), who is fourth in the pole vault in the country, competes on Thursday, as does Chandler King (Hughes Springs), who is 16th in the long jump. The Lions have had three student-athletes qualify in the high jump, Justin Lewis (Lynn, Mass.) is fourth in the country, Dakari Hill (Orlando, Fla.) is 18th, and Perera. Dodley Thermitus (Elizabeth, N.J.) and Trayveon Franklin (Montgomery) are seventh and 12th in the triple jump. 

Smith and Edwin are both anticipated to reach the finals in the 100 and 200-meter dashes on the track. Edwin is second in the country in the 200-meter dash, while both are in the top seven in the 100-meter dash. Macon is 16th in the 110-meter hurdles, and Maxime Woirin (Lyon, France) is 18th in the 400-meter hurdles. 

WOMEN

Four marks for the Lion women are tops in the country. Mariana Shostak (Lviv, Ukraine) has the fastest time in the 400-meter dash. Minna Svaerd (Karlstad, Sweden) is the leader in the 400-meter hurdles, and both are part of the Division II-leading 4×400 meter relay team along with Naomi Ndukwe (Perserville, France) and Sofia Khenfar (Lyon, France), and Candesha Scott (St. David, Grenada) is leading in the javelin. 

Tamara Susa (Novi Sad, Serbia) is 11th in the javelin, while Svaerd competes in the pole vault and is seeded No. 14. The 4×100 meter relay team of Shostak, Khenfar, Francesca Aquilino (Milan, Italy), and Ashley Benton (Waxahachie Life) is 13th in the country. 

THURSDAY’S SCHEDULE

The first Lion to compete on Thursday is Schutte at 2 p.m. EDT/1 p.m. CDT, followed by King at 2:30 p.m. EDT/1:30 p.m. CDT. You can find the full schedule on Thursday for the Lions below.

Student-Athlete/Relay Team Event Time (CDT)
Elmar Schutte Men’s Pole Vault (Finals) 1 p.m.
Chandler King Men’s Long Jump (Finals) 1:30 p.m.
Cameron MaconJ.T. SmithAndre NormanDelan Edwin Men’s 4×100 meter relay (Prelims) 3:50 p.m.
Francesca AquilinoAshley BentonSofia KhenfarMariana Shostak Women’s 4×100 meter relay (Prelims) 4 p.m.
Mariana Shostak Women’s 400 meter dash (Prelims) 4:55 p.m.
Delan Edwin & J.T. Smith Men’s 100 meter dash (Prelims) 5:10 p.m.
Maxime Woirin Men’s 400 Meter Hurdles (Prelims) 6:40 p.m.
Minna Svaerd Women’s 400 meter hurdles (Prelims) 6:55 p.m.