Completing a productive collegiate athletic career in track and field as a freshman for the University of Central Arkansas, Ajah Criner has soared to achievement amongst several top D-I tracksters during her first season.

Completing a productive collegiate athletic career in track and field as a freshman for the University of Central Arkansas, Ajah Criner has soared to achievement amongst several top D-I tracksters during her first season.

Criner, the former hometown standout Hope Ladycat begun her career participating in over 12 meets with the University of Central Arkansas men and women's track and field team. As a Division I UCA track and field signee, Criner debuted in her first collegiate meet back on December 2-3, 2016 in Jonesboro at Arkansas State's Convocation center to open their indoor competition season. As a freshman, Criner finished fourth in the 60 meters with a time of 7.84. She also finished fifth place in the Women's 200 meter dash with a time of 25.69. The UCA Bears and Sugar Bears registered 15 person records, including two school records, tied one school record and more than a 12 program top 10 performances.

Since then, Criner has competed well during several college meets to finish in top places in events. It's wasn't easy for Criner in the beginning but as the season progressed, she improved and adjusted to win a few running events during indoor and outdoor meets.

"I felt my first year went pretty good and got a lot faster. The indoor meets I had to get use to, but once the outdoor meet arrived everything started to fall into place for me," Criner said.

Criner's speed began to improve since running in high school meets. She broke her 100 and 200 meter dash times. In high school, Criner ran 12 seconds in the 100 meter dash and 25 second in the 200 meter dash. Now in college she's finishing the 100 meters at 11.9 seconds and 200 meter dash 24.5 seconds. The improvement Criner has made has allowed her to work hard to compete at high levels to stay more focused while maintaining a busy schedule in college.

"In the fall it wasn't too bad or a problem, but in the spring it got kinda of hectic. I schedule was always class, practice, homework and every weekend was a meet," Criner said.

Even with a very busy agenda Criner had, she thought it was good to have someone around like teammates and coaches to keep her focus. The team would lift weights at 6 a.m., then practice around 3:30 p.m. during the week. She enjoyed the opportunity to travel and go to numerous meets out of state to compete against some of the nation's best track and field athletes.

This summer was the first she didn't participate with her AAU track and field team.

Over the last two summers, Criner competed on the national stage in track and field 2016 AAU Junior Olympics hosted at Humble High School in Houston, Texas. This was Criner's second trip to qualify to compete at the Junior Olympic Games with her AAU Team Elite. More than 15,000 athletes and 30,000 spectators traveled to Houston, Texas for the 2016 AAU Junior Olympic Games. This is the largest national multi-sport event for youth in the United States, and brought a significant economic impact to the greater Houston area. Criner made a impressive impact in the state of Virginia and finished strong for her debut at the 2015 Junior Olympics held at Norfolk State University, Norfolk, Va. The Junior Olympics have provided Criner the necessary experience and exposure to compete with the nations top athletes where she has been productive thus far participating with UCA track and field program.

Now officially completing a freshman season in track and field in college, Criner looks forward to her sophomore year competing with UCA for 2017-18. In the offseason this summer, she'll continue workout schedule plans from her coach up to the start of returning to school in August. Criner plans to major in Exercise Science with a Bachelor of Science degree from UCA.

 

AJAH CRINER'S TOP MEET EVENT PERFORMANCES 2016-17

OUTDOOR MEETS

100 meter dash - 12.00

200 meter dash - 24.89

Long Jump - 5.38m

 

INDOOR MEETS

55 meter dash - 7.32

60 meter dash - 7.82

200 meter dash - 25.75

 

Ajah Criner's UCA outdoor and indoor track and field meet performances during freshman year 2016-17.

OUTDOOR MEET RESULTS

SOUTHLAND CONFERENCE OUTDOOR CHAMPIONSHIPS

Event:100 meter dash (Preliminary)

Time:11.92w

Place: Ninth

 

Event: 200 meter dash (Preliminary)

Time 24.89

Place:17th

 

Event: 4 x100 meter relay (Finals)

Time: 46.90

Place: Seventh

 

2017 DRAKE RELAYS

Event: 100 meter dash

Time: 12.00

Place: 11th

 

KANSAS RELAYS

Event: 200 meter dash

Time: 24.54

Place: Seventh

 

 

Event: 100 meter dash

Time: 11.97

Place: Eighth

 

Event: 4 x 100 meter relay

Time: 48.28

Place: Sixth

 

CENTRAL ARKANSAS OPEN

Event: 100 meter dash

Time: 12.39

Place: Third

 

Event: Long Jump

Jump: 4.95m - 16' 3''

Place: 10th

 

SKECHERS PERFORMANCE CARL KIGHT INVITATIONAL

Event: 400 meter dash

Time: 58.04

Place: 15th

Event: 200 meter dash

Time: 24.89

Place: Sixth

 

Event: 4 x 100 meter relay

Time: 47.98

Place: Fourth

 

TEXAS STATE BOBCAT INVITATIONAL

Event: 100 meter dash

Time: 11.94

 

Event: 200 meter dash

Time: 24.57

 

2017 RHODES INVITATIONAL

Event: 100 meter dash

Time: 12.07

Place: Third

 

Event: 200 meter dash

Time: 25.06

Place: Fourth

 

Event: 4 x400 meter relay

Time: 4:19.52

Place: 10th

 

2017 RHODES INVITATIONAL

Event: 4 x 100 meter relay

Time: 47.11

Place: Second

 

CENTRAL ARKANSAS SPRING OPENER

Event: 200 meter dash

Time: 25.36

Place: First

 

Event: Long Jump

Jump: 5.38m - 17' 8''

Place: Fifth

 

Event: 4 x 100 meter relay

Time: 48.23

Place: Second

 

INDOOR MEET RESULTS

SOUTHLAND CONFERENCE INDOOR TRACK AND FIELD

Event: 60 meter dash

Time: 7.83

 

Event: 200 meter dash

Time: 25.94

 

DON DENOON INVITE

Event: 60 meter dash

Time: 7.82

Place: Fifth

 

Event: 200 meter dash

Time: 25.75

Place: Eighth

 

2017 JAYHAWK CLASSIC

Event: 60 meter dash

Time: 7.94

Place: 11th

 

Event: 200 meter dash

Time: 26.38

Place: First

 

EMORY CROSSPLEX INVITATIONAL

Event: 200 meter dash

Time: 26.57

 

Event: 60 meter dash

Time: 8.06

 

ASU KICKOFF KLASSIC

Event: 55 meter dash

Time: 7.32

Place: Fourth

 

Event: 200 meter dash

Time: 26.09

Place: Fifth

 

Event: 4 x 400 meter relay

Time: 4:11.91

Place: Sixth