SJU athlete jumps to BE title

St. John’s Arina Gerasimova captured the Big East title in the triple jump this weekend at the Big East Indoor Track and Field Championship.

Gerasimova won the Big East title by overcoming an Achilles problem she has been nursing. “You talk about a gutty performance,” said head coach Jim Hurt of Gerasimova, whose title is the second for a St. John’s triple jumper.

Perhaps even more impressive is the fact that Gerasimova recently transferred to St. John’s from the University of Albany, where she held the school record for the triple jump, and was competing in only her fourth meet with the Red Storm.

St. John’s sent nine athletes to the season finale at the 168th Street Armory, hoping to capitalize on recent success at the Metropolitan Championships last month, where the team finished second behind Manhattan College. The team scored 21 points and came away with an 11th place finish overall, moving up five spots from last year. Strong showings from Priscilla Frederick, Phobay Kutu-Akoi, and Arina Gerasimova propelled the team, each earning All-Big East honors in the process.

Frederick, the only St. John’s athlete to earn All-Big East in two events, finished third in the high jump and seventh in the pentathlon. “I get upset after I lose,” she said about her high jump finish. “This time around it wasn’t because I lost, it was the way I lost.” Frederick, who’s score was good for first place, was awarded third because a tie-breaker with Rachael Porter and Carin Knight of Connecticut ruled against her.

Kutu-Akoi reached the finals in both of her events, finishing sixth in the 200m and ninth in the 60m dash. “It’s a little bittersweet, but I had no regrets,” the senior said about competing in her final Big East indoor event.

Kim Piard and Paula Rennalls also logged ECAC qualifying times this weekend, while Venisa Clarke-Lee and Tyneka Greene just narrowly fell short. Both the 4×400 and 4×800 relay teams posted times qualifying them for the ECAC Championships, to be held on March 7 and 8.

“I feel really good, we had our best performance of the year,” Hurt said. “From a coach’s point of view you always like to see your kids improve.” The team faced some very stiff competition over the two days, which Hurt credits to the conference’s continuing to “get deeper. “

There is little doubt that the Big East is a powerhouse in indoor track, as the championship meet alone saw five automatic NCAA-qualifying bids and as many as 45 provisional NCAA-qualifiers.