Highlands athletes invade Birmingham

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Grant places fourth in long jump, seventh in 200-meter dash

By Dave Kavanaugh

Three noted New Mexico Highlands University athletes joined counterparts from around the country for national championship competition over the weekend in Birmingham, Ala.

Birmingham was the host site for both the NCAA Division II indoor track and field and wrestling nationals.

Highlands’ Jillisa Grant and Danisha Phipps made the trip for the Cowgirl track and field team. Unofficially, their efforts landed NMHU a 26th place team finish in the indoor nationals.

The outdoor portion of the track and field season begins over the next couple weeks, concluding with the outdoor nationals in late May.

Highlands’ Justin Rockhill qualified for the national wrestling tournament.

Jillisa Grant
Jillisa Grant’s long jump measured 5.99 meters and was the fourth-longest recorded Friday in the NCAA Division II national indoor track and field championships.

Vashti Thomas of the Academy of Art — the institution that captured the women’s team title — won the long jump with a 6.19; Thomas was the only jumper to exceed 6 meters. Grant made finals with a mark of 5.83, then outjumped that in the finals.

Grant’s own meet record of 6.26, which won her a national title in the long jump in March 2012, remained intact.

Grant ran a 24.26 to place seventh in the women’s 200-meter dash. That was an improvement from her 24.43 time — 17th fastest — in the preliminary heats for the women’s 200-meter dash. Thomas won in 23.43, edging runner-up Danielle Williams of Johnson C. Smith by two thousandths of a second.

Grant covered the women’s 60-meter hurdles in 8.59 seconds, the 14th fastest in the preliminaries.

Grant is a senior from Spanish Town, Jamaica.

Danisha Phipps
Danisha Phipps placed 15th in the indoor pentathlon with 3,250 points.

She had a 9.26 in the 60-meter hurdles, a 1.66 in the high jump, a 10.9 in the shot put, a 4.83 in the long jump, and a 2:47.97 in the 800-meter run.

Phipps is a junior from St. Mary’s, Jamaica.

Central Missouri’s Erin Alewine won the five-event competition, logging 3,925 points.

Justin Rockhill
Justin Rockhill, who finished fourth in the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference and Super Region IV tournament at 197 lbs., qualified for the NCAA Division II wrestling championships.

Rockhill (13-9) went 0-2, losing a 10-0 major decision to Vinny Campanile of Kutztown, then getting pinned by eventual seventh-place finisher Joseph Brandt of Ashland at the 6:20 mark.

A sophomore from Wilcox, Ariz., Rockhill is expected back next year for coach Doug Moses’ Cowboys.


BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — In just a few short days, New Mexico Highlands University All-American Jillisa Grant has developed a special bond with the youngsters of Birmingham, Ala., the site of the 2013 NCAA Division II Indoor Track & Field Championships.
Grant spent time with youths from Birmingham Children’s Hospital on Thursday and Friday and was visited by another group of special guests Saturday as she prepared for the final race of her college career.
“I love small kids,” said Grant with a big smile as she was surrounded by a group of youngsters holding up signs, wishing her and others good luck in the championships. “It was inspiring to see that they looked up to me. They are very nice kids and some want to run track.”
Grant finished fourth in the long jump Friday and seventh in the 200 meters on Saturday. She also competed in the 60-meter hurdles.

—NMHU Sports Information