WASHINGTON - The American University track and field team opened the two-day Patriot League Indoor Championships on Saturday with a pair of podium finishes after senior Alaeldin Tirba and the men's 4x800-meter relay clocked through for second-place finishes. Of the 11 Eagles that competed Saturday afternoon, nine walked away with new all-time top ten marks in the program record books.
Tirba opened events with his second consecutive personal record (PR) in the 5,000m where he battled to the line, just missing on the top spot on the podium by less than a second with his 14:29.44 crossing. That time also bumps him up to No. 9 in the AU all-time list - he previously owned the tenth-fastest time in program history with his 14:33.79 performance at the Dr. Sander Invitational earlier this season. This is the second individual medal for Tirba at the indoor championship meet after he finished as runner-up in the 3000m run last season.
Tirba returned to the track later in the day for the men's 4x800m relay, where he joined fellow-senior Liam Purdy and juniors, Ben Doiron and Matthew Rainey. The Eagles crossed with the 10th fastest time in program history and just missed on their second consecutive conference title in the event by less than a second, finishing second to Navy with a final time of 7:39.71.
On the women's side, freshman Shelbi Wuss highlighted the day's events as she hit the fifth-fastest 5000m time in AU history in her event debut. She placed seventh in the conference field with a final time of 17:30.66, followed by junior Adriana Hooks in ninth (17:43.23).
The women's 4x800m relay closed the day with yet another all-time top ten mark. The squad, comprised of seniors Jude Mabone and Brianna Belo and sophomores Arianna Lopez and Kaitlyn McTernan, placed eighth overall in 9:29.39 - the eighth-fastest time in program history.
The Eagles will return to Bucknell's Gerhard Field House for the second and final day of competition on Sunday. Events will kick off at noon with junior Matthew Rainey and sophomore Gerard D'Ambrosio III in the men's mile run.
HEAR FROM COACH GRAHAM...
"Overall it was a good start to the Patriot League Championships. We had some very impressive performances, but a few misses, too. Alaeldin executed the 5000m very well, just got nipped at the line. Shelbi Wuss, in her 5k debut, put up a top-five all-time mark and some points on the board for the women. The women's 4x800m wasn't quite where we wanted it, but some sickness last week certainly played a factor and they still came away with points for the team.
"The men's 4x800m was an epic race that ended in a battle between us and Navy to the line. Those four men (Alaeldin, Ben, Matthew and Liam) ran a phenomenal race. The team is looking very good to come back out to battle again tomorrow."
For the latest on American Track & Field, stay tuned to AUEagles.com and follow the team on Twitter @AU_TrackXC.
AUTF RESULTS - SATURDAY
Long Jump, Men - 16. Trevor Patton, 6.47m (21-2.75)
5000m Run, Men - 2. Alaeldin Tirba, 14:29.44 PR #9
5000m Run, Women - 7. Shelbi Wuss, 17:30.66 PR #5 / 9. Adriana Hooks, 17:43.23
4x800m Relay, Men - 2. (Alaeldin Tirba, Ben Doiron, Matthew Rainey, Liam Purdy), 7:39.71 #10
4x800m Relay, Women - 8. (Arianna Lopez, Kaitlyn McTernan, Jude Mabone, Brianna Belo), 9:29.39 #8
#AUTF SCHEDULE - SUNDAY
12:00 p.m. - Mile Run, Men (Matthew Rainey, Gerard D'Ambrosio III)
2:00 p.m. - 800m Run, Men (Liam Purdy)
2:15 p.m. - 800m Run, Women (Brianna Belo)
3:10 p.m. - 3000m Run, Men (Ben Doiron, Alaeldin Tirba)
3:30 p.m. - 3000m Run, Women (Adriana Hooks, Shelbi Wuss)
3:50 p.m. - DMR, Men
4:05 p.m. - DMR, Women