February 4, 2011

Spartan Track Teams Carry Momentum To Niswonger Invitational This Weekend

TRACK AND FIELD TEAMS SET TO COMPETE AT NISWONGER INVITATIONAL THIS WEEKEND

SPARTANBURG, S.C.—Coming off a strong performance at the JRF Combined Events Invitational this past weekend at Clemson, the USC Upstate men's and women's track teams will head for Johnson City, Tenn., as they take part in the Niswonger Invitational on Friday and Saturday. In total, the two teams set a combined seven school marks last weekend.

Recapping Last Year's Niswonger Invitational:

The men's and women's track teams made quite an impression at last year's Niswonger Invitational, as it was the Gilbert Kemboi (Eldoret, Kenya/Kangetuny) show, as he highlighted several superlative efforts by the Spartan men in the distance events. Kemboi began to assert himself as one of the Atlantic Sun's elite distance runners as a result of his record-breaking performance at the Niswonger last season, en route to being named the A-Sun's Most Outstanding Freshman Runner at the 2010 Indoor A-Sun Championships, which was also held in Johnson City.

Kemboi has managed to post two of his strongest performances inside the Memorial Center, as he shattered the previous school-record in the 5000-meter run, with a mark of 14:35.19. The previous school standard in the event had been set by James Jackson, as he posted a 16:07.98 time, which was also at the Niswonger Invitational.

"For our first meet of the season, I was very proud of the effort that was given by all of our athletes," said head coach Jimmy Stephens.  "For our freshmen, a meet of this caliber can be overwhelming, but they definitely stepped up to the challenge this weekend.  Gilbert's performance today was amazing!  This is one of the premier meets in the country and to be in the top-10 is great, but to win, is outstanding. "

Also in the distance events for the men, Cameron Thomas (Niceville, Fla., Niceville HS) came up big for the Spartans, as he broke yet another school record. His time of 9:13.64 helped Thomas post a 28th-place finish in the 3000-meter run, as his time in the event bested the previous mark of 9:22.40 set by Matt Henderson  

It was also a strong performance for Davey Dennison (Carlisle, Pa.,/Carlisle HS), as he posted a mark of 16:12.92 in the 5000-meter run to place 34th overall in the event.

 On the women's side last year, Gabby Walker (Chattanooga, Tenn./Mars Hill College) turned in one of her best performances as Spartan, establishing new school records in the 60-meter dash, as she posted a time of 8.00, which surpassed teammate LaTerrica Blocker's (Stone Mountain, GA./Redan HS) former mark of 8.38 in the event.

Walker was also impressive in the throws, recording a personal best in the light-weight throw with a toss of 33-00.25 to surpass her previous mark of 32-03.75 set at the Gamecock Invitational in her freshman season.

Like Walker, Blocker would also turn in a strong performance, establishing a personal best in the 60-meter dash, posting a time of 8.36 at the Niswonger to surpass her previous school standard mark. Rounding out the solid performances in the 60-meter dash at last year's Niswonger Invitational was Kathryn Neely (Rock Hill, S.C./Northwestern HS). Neely went on to set a personal-best of 8.89 passing her old mark of 9.08 that she posted at the Clemson games earlier in the campaign.

Recapping The JRF Invitational-The Spartans set seven new school marks at the JRF Combined Events Invitational at the Clemson University Track and Field Complex last weekend. Among the standout performances for the Upstate men's track and field team was by junior newcomer Kenneth Sugishita (Arroyo Grande, CA./Arroyo Grande HS)competing in throws.

Sugishita was an immediate impact performer for the Spartan men, as he set new school marks in the 35-lb weight throw. His toss of 51-08.50m (15.76 ft) bested Eric Champman's previous mark of 50-11.00 (15.52m) at the Gene Anderson Invitational last season. Sugishita was also able to set a new standard in the shot put, with a toss of 49-11.25m (15.22 ft). Sugishita's toss in the weight throw was good enough for a sixth-place finish.

Perrish Goggins (Columbia, S.C./C.A. Johnson Prep) showed no rust after taking a redshirt season last year, taking second-place behind Auburn's D.J Smith in the high jump, producing a leap of 2.00m. Goggins' leap, which produced a second-place finish, was the high-water mark for the Spartan men or women teams on the opening day of the two-day event. Sophomore Dominique Davis (Spartanburg, S.C./Boling Springs HS) also fashioned a strong performance, finishing seventh in the men's high jump with a leap that measured 1.85m.

Gilbert Kemboi (Eldoret, Kenya/Kangetuny HS) also got his sophomore season underway in strong fashion, picking up right where he left off his freshman campaign, as he posted a second-place finish for the Spartans in the 3000-meter run, posting a time of 8:26.78.

Highlighting the women's side was freshman Ashley Edmond (Columbia, S.C./Lower Richland HS), who posted a time of 26.54 in the 200-meter dash, which was good enough for an 18th-place finish. Her mark in the 200-meter dash overcame Kiah White's previously established standard of 27.57 set at the Clemson Invitational back in 2009. Edmond also turned in a solid effort on the competition's opening day, as she finished 16th in the women's 400-meter dash with a time of 1:01.29.