Track and Field teams continue getting stronger


Jill Connelly

Shannon Turner and Jesus Nichol ii competing in the 800 meters at the Mt Sac Relays at the Holmer Lodge Stadium. Photo by Jill Connelly. Courtesy of Cal State LA Athletics.

The track and field team not only considers themselves to be a big family but is also trying to create winners on and off the field.

The men and women’s track and field Head Coach Tina Davis-Fernandes believes that the men’s team is strong and has a chance of doing something special if everything comes together.

“I have an amazing coaching staff who work hard to ensure all of the student-athletes are successful on and off the track,” she said. “We have a great chance of having a strong finish on the national level.”

Davis-Fernandes said that on the men’s side, there are a few student-athletes that are currently ranked nationally.

“Shannon Turner, an 800 meter runner, had an amazing race that put him in contention in stamping his ticket to the National Championships (NCAA),” she said. “He has a teammate, Jesus Nichols, whom we are also waiting to get his time for the NCAA Championships.”

Other athletes standing out this season are junior Qwintin Workman, ranked #5 in the nation, junior Porte Joie Tshaba, ranked #9 in the nation and scored at the NCAA Champions for two years, and senior Leon Tafirenyika, ranked #4 in the 400m and scored last year at the NCAA Championships.

Turner said that his last track meet on April 14 was definitely one for the books.

“It was the Mt. SAC relays, they have such a fast track there and it’s always good competing there,” he said. “I hit a PR of 1:59.19 in the 800 meters and was able to solidify a tenth place overall in Division II.”

Turner thought that this season has been good and people on the team have been showing good work, despite setbacks or injuries they might have had.

“It’s not over yet. The goal is to make it to national finals this year and for the next year as well,” he said. “I’m trying to also run faster than 1:47 which is the ultimate goal overall.”

Davis-Fernandes believes that the women’s team is still recovering from COVID-19.

“Missing two seasons were tough, but each year we are getting stronger,” she said. “I believe we can have a strong finish if we continue to work hard.”

Davis-Fernandes said that juniors Eden Hahn, Alyssa Johnson, Isis Johnson and sophomore Destiny Moedano are making a great impact on the women’s team.

Yara Bongers, a civil engineering master student, is a pole vault and sprint athlete born and raised in Belgium.

“The team became my family. The coaches helped me a lot on the track but also off the track,” she said. “I learned a lot this season. Two more regular competitions to go.”

Bongers thinks that the support between each team member is the most beautiful thing in their team.

“We shout for each other during the competition but we are also there mentally for each other,” she said. “I see everyone growing and working every single day to become better. That is what matters, not winning every single competition.”

Davis-Fernandes’ said the goal for every season is to recruit a well-rounded team that loves school as much as they love their sport.

“My job is to create champions on and off the field,” she said. “I am proud to say that track and field [athletes] are not only graduating but deciding to continue on with earning higher degrees.”

The track teams competed on April 21 at the Chris Rinne Twilight meet at UC Riverside with multiple wins in different races and new personal records being set.