Written by Edythe Bradley
Albany State University will host the 20th Annual Alice Coachman Invitational Track Meet on Saturday, March 31, at ASU’s Robert Cross Track and Field Complex and Hugh Mills Stadium Complex in Albany, Ga.
The hammer throw competition, followed by the javelin throw, is slated to start at 8 a.m. at the ASU complex. The men and women’s 3000-meter steeplechase will be held at the Mills Complex at11 a.m. All other track and field events, starting with the long jump events, will begin at 11 a.m. at the recently resurfaced Albany State facility. The 4×100-meter relay events will start at 11:30 a.m. The awards ceremony will be held at the conclusion of the meet.
Sponsored by the ASU women and men’s track and field programs, the meet will feature world-class athletes from some of the top collegiate teams and unattached athletes in the Southeast. Several teams, including Columbus State University and Edward Waters College, along with several SIAC teams, including Morehouse College, Stillman College and Paine College, are expected to compete.
ASU athletes, including throwers CreeAnn Perkins and Patrick Jordan, runners Brittany Carter and Tabareyon Jones, pole vaulters Briana Bowles and Timothy Jackson and hurdlers Irrion Conaler and Jordan Thompson, are favored to take top honors in the track and field events.
The annual track meet is held in honor of Alice Coachman-Davis, the first African American woman to win an Olympic gold medal. Coachman-Davis made history and gained international attention by capturing the high jump title with a record-setting jump of 5′ 6 1/8″ during the 1948 Olympic Games in London.
While the 1948 games catapulted her to international acclaim and the first endorsement among African-American women, she had proven herself as a major track and field force in prior years. She won 10 consecutive U.S. titles in the high jump and national titles at 50-meters, 100-meters and as a member in the 400-meter relay on the Tuskegee championship team. Many believe she would have dominated the 1940 and 1944 Summer Games, which were cancelled because of World War II.
The Albany, Ga., native attended Tuskegee University, but earned her bachelor’s degree from Albany State (College) after returning from the 1948 games. As a collegian, she was a member of three Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SIAC) championship basketball teams. She dominated Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) competitions in the high jump. From 1938 to 1948, she won 10 consecutive AAU high jump titles.
In 1994, she established the Alice Coachman Track and Field Foundation, a nonprofit organization that assists both young athletes and retired Olympians.