Chinonyelum wins a pair of national titles to highlight Day Two for the Cloud County women at NJCAA Indoor Track and Field Championships

Cloud County freshman Grace Chinonyelum won national championships in the triple jump and high jump events Saturday at the NJCAA Indoor Track and Field Championships
Cloud County freshman Grace Chinonyelum won national championships in the triple jump and high jump events Saturday at the NJCAA Indoor Track and Field Championships

PITTSBURG, Kansas — Two weeks after proving she was one of the top athletes in the Region VI/KJCCC, Cloud County freshman Grace Chinonyelum showed she happens to be one of the best in the country as she earned a pair of national championship event wins on Day Two of the NJCAA Indoor Track and Field Championships.

Chinonyelum, who won Female Region VI High Point Athlete of the Meet at the Region VI/KJCCC Indoor Championships on Feb. 15-16, shined on the national stage Saturday, winning the triple jump (43'2.5) and high jump (5'9.25) events.

Both jumps broke her own previous school records, while her mark in the triple jump set a facility record at the Robert W. Plaster Center.

"Grace had an outstanding meet. She produced some outstanding marks, some of the best marks in junior college history," said Cloud County head coach Ted Schmitz. "She's an unbelievable talent. She's very explosive, very strong and a determined young lady. A lot of good qualities and god given talent."

Chinonyelum, who added a seventh-place finish in the long jump (18'7) for good measure, helped lead the way to a sixth-place overall finish for the T-Birds with 51 points; the second best finish for any Region VI team.

She was joined on the podium in the high jump by freshman Semaj McGhee as she finished in sixth place (5'3.75), while freshman Jessica Williams added a 12th place finish (5'1) to her weekend, which included a national runner-up performance Friday in the pole vault (11'9.75).

"It was outstanding to see Jessica do so well as a local Concordia girl," Schmitz said. "She's fantastic to coach and it's very rewarding to see someone like that earn national runner-up."

Cloud County's other top finishers on Saturday included freshman Jacqueline Pokuaah in the long jump as she placed third in the event with a leap of 19'3.

Freshman hurdler Deya Erickson found the podium with a fourth-place finish in the 60-meter hurdles and sophomore Jatoria McGirt, a former indoor 60-meter dash national champion for the T-Birds in 2017, placed eighth in the 200-meter dash in her final competition in a Cloud County uniform.

McGirt also helped anchor the Cloud County 4X400-meter relay team of Chanice Forbes, Kenisha Stubbs and Shackera Samuels to a seventh-place finish as the quartet shaved five seconds off their personal record time.

McGhee also earned a second trip to the podium Saturday in the women's pentathlon, moving up from her 13th seed entering the weekend to finish in a tie for eighth with 2,885 points.

The T-Birds will now turn their attention toward the outdoor season, which is currently scheduled to get underway Thursday at Southwestern if the weather permits. If Cloud County decides to pull out of that meet, it'll begin the outdoor season March 22-23 in Fayetteville, Arkansas at the Arkansas Spring Invitational.

With just 13 points separating the seventh place through third place teams in the indoor standings, and with the addition of outdoor events to the heat sheets, Schmitz said his team is excited about what they can accomplish this spring.

"We're definitely looking forward to the challenge of the outdoor season," Schmitz said. "We'll pick up Shanee Angol (national placer) in the javelin. We'll pick up the 400-meter hurdles, which I think we have a couple of strong 400-meter hurdlers. And we also get to pick up the 4X100-meter relay and we think we'll be a sound team in that event, as well."