WINSTON-SALEM, NC ( – The Claflin University men’s indoor track & field team claimed the 2023 Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association (CIAA) Men’s Indoor Track & Field Championship, Monday at the JDL Fast Track in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. Though the Panthers were short in numbers, the team was able to get some clutch performances when they needed them to claim the title.
“It was a great day for Claflin University. I really appreciate the support from the administration. The student-athletes showed up and executed the plan. We prepared for every outcome and out ourselves in position at the end to win,” said Claflin University track & field head coach Garon Jackson. “It’s my first [championship] as a head coach and I wanted my experience to elevate the team. This championship is all about the student-athletes’ hard work.”
It was the men’s 4x400m relay team that wrapped up the title for the team as they put on an impressive performance when the team needed it the most. Heading into the final event of the day, the Panthers trailed the Livingstone Blue Bears by two points 90-88. It was then that the team relay team sealed the championship by winning the event with a 3:19.47, edging out second place Saint Augustine’s. With the event win, the Panthers claimed the 2023 CIAA Men’s Indoor Track & Field Championship with 98 total points, two ahead of Livingstone. The Saint Augustine’s Falcons placed third.
The team victory came with several tremendous individual efforts. Freshman Reginald Gore stood out throughout the entire championship meet with several great performances. On Sunday, he set the tone when he won the men’s mile run with a 4:35.79 and he was a member of the men’s distance medley relay team that won their event with an 11:02.78. His work wasn’t done as he came back on Monday to place third in the men’s 800m run with a 1:59.25 and he finished the day with a fourth place finish in the men’s 5000m run with a 17:16.22. Along with his effort in the distance medley relay, Gore accounted for 31 of the team’s 98 points.
The Panthers also got a great effort from freshman sprinter Jonathan Flemister as well. He won the men’s 200m dash with a 22.35 and he placed fourth in the men’s 60m dash finals with a 6.96. his work was not done as he was also a part of the Panthers’ 4x400m relay team that clinched the title.
The newcomers weren’t the only ones who stepped up for the Panthers. Sophomore Zion Murry had another great showing at the meet as he won the men’s 800m run with a 1:58.44.
There were more honors on the way for the Panthers. After leading the team to the championship, Jackson was named the 2023 CIAA Men’s Indoor Track & Field Coach of the Year. The team also received their plaque for claiming the Dr. Freddie Vaughn’s Highest Team Academic Award.
The 2023 CIAA Men’s Indoor Track & Field is the first in school history for the Panthers. It is also the first CIAA championship for a men’s team in school history as well.
With the conference championship secured, the Panthers will turn their attentions to pursuing qualifiers for the upcoming NCAA Division II Indoor Men’s Track & Field National Championships. For more information on Panthers track & field, contact the Claflin University Office of Athletics Media Relations at (803) 535-5548 or log on to www.athletics.claflin.edu.