February 10, 2011

Upstate Track and Field Teams Set To Take Part In Final Tune-Up Prior To A-Sun Championships Next Week

Tiger Paw Invitational Offers Final Tune-Up For Atlantic Sun Championships Next Week

SPARTANBURG, S.C.—Fresh off a strong performance at the Niswonger Invitational last weekend, the Upstate men's and women's track teams will be back in action this weekend at the Tiger Paw Invitational in a final tune-up for the Atlantic Sun Championships in a couple of weeks, when the teams will return to Johnson City for the conference meet.

Recapping The Niswonger Invitational: Last weekend at the Niswonger Invitational, it was a strong effort on both the men's and women's side, as records were set on both sides in the nationally-acclaimed meet. On the men's side, the Spartans opened the meet on Friday by setting a couple of new school marks to open the proceedings.

Upstate's men's distance runners were once again led by Gilbert Kemboi, as he again posted strong performances and finishes. Kemboi  posted a time of 14:36.46 in the 5,000-meter, which was good enough to help him to  a second-place finish in the event, and it also marked the fastest time of the A-Sun indoor season in the men's 5,000-meter run.

The last time Kemboi visited the Clemson Indoor Track and Field complex, he turned in a solid performance, as he posted a league season-best time of 8:24.08 time in the 3000-meter run at the JRF Combined Events Invitational a couple of weeks ago.

In the 60-meter dash, Coastal Carolina transfer Ben Wheeler continued his strong impact for the men's sprint team, as he posted a new school record in the event by posting a time of 7.11 to surpass Biletto McGee's previous record of 7.15, which was set back in 2008 at the Clemson Invitational.

Also coming through strong for the Spartan sprint team on the opening day of competition was Michael Meissner, who also commenced the first day of competition by setting a school record. In the 400-meter dash, Meissner set a new school mark by posting a 15th-place finish and a time of 50.05 in the event. His time eclipsed the former school mark of 50.14, which he set last season at the 2010 Atlantic Sun Championships.

That time was good enough to earn Meissner the second-best time in the 400-meter dash this season with his time at the Niswonger last weekend. His time of 50.05 has only been topped by East Tennessee State's Tim O'Dell, who posted a 49.15 in the 400-meter at the Liberty Invitational.  

Meissner would also set a new school mark in the 200-meter dash at the Niswonger Invitational over the weekend, as he finished with a time of 22.83 to surpass the previous school standard of 23.06, which he set just the previous weekend at the JRF Combined Events Invitational at the Clemson Indoor Track Complex.

Junior Perrish Goggins continued to shine during the 2010-11 season in the field events, as he posted a top-three finish for the second-straight week. Having already posted a top three finish in the long-jump this season, with a leap of 23-4.5 at the JRF Combined Events Invitational a couple of weeks ago for a second-place finish, Goggins would make it two weeks in a row with a top three finish in an event, with a second-place finish in the high jump, clearing a height of 6-08.00 (2.03m). That mark is tied for the A-Sun standard in the high jump this indoor season, along with Kennesaw State's Cameron Zeman.  

Also in the field events for the men, it was junior Kenneth Sugishita, who was the lone thrower for the Spartan men to make the trip to Tri-Cities, once again making noise. The Arroyo, California product set a new school record in the men's weight throw by the slimmest of margins, as he recorded a toss of 51-08.50 (15.76m) en route to a 12th-place finish in the event.  His toss was good enough to surpass his own school record of 51-08.25, which he set just the previous weekend at the JRF Combined Events Invitational.

Sugishita would go on to post a strong performance on the second day of competition for the Niswonger Invitational, as he competed in the shot-put, with a throw of 52-11.50 (16.14m) to finish fifth in the event. That throw shattered his previous mark at the JRF Combined Events Invitational by over three feet.

Justin Crawford was once again strong in the pole vault for the Spartans, as he placed ninth on the second day of the Niswonger with a vault of 14-09.00 (4.50), rounding out another sound performance by the Spartan men at the Niswonger Invitational.

The women also got a fine performance on the opening day of the event from freshman Ashley Edmond, as she set a new school mark in the 400-meter dash, as she was able to post a time of 60.62 in the event to finish 46th in the event. The time surpassed Kiah White's previous school record of 60.82 set back in the 2008 season at the A-Sun Championships.

Edmond was joined by strong performances from Joan Tangwar in women's distance events, while Kathryn Neely continued to show the overall marked improvement of the women's sprint teams. Tangwar posted a sterling performance in the women's 5,000-meter run on the opening day at the Niswonger Invitational, as she took a fifth-place finish in the race by posting a time of 18:06.02. Meanwhile,  Neely finished 34th in the women's 60-meter hurdles on the opening day of competition, finishing with a time of 10.02 in the event.

Kemboi Recognized As A-Sun Track Athlete of the Week

Sophomore Gilbert Kemboi captured his second A-Sun men's track Athlete of the Week award after his performance in the 5,000-meter run last week at the Niswonger Invitational in Johnson City, Tenn.

Kemboi, a sociology major, was able to turn in a solid performance at the Niswonger Invitational despite battling the lingering effects of an illness earlier in the week, which had made him less than 100-percent leading up to the meet. "Gilbert had a good race on Saturday considering he was sick for most of the week," said associate head coach Carson Blackwelder.

Kemboi, the 2010 Cross Country "Runner of the Year," has been exceptional once again this season, as he has already posted the top A-Sun times in the men's 3,000-meter run and 5,000-meter this season. In last weekend's Niswonger Invitational, Kemboi posted a time of 14:36.46 in the 5,000-meter run to post a second-place finish in the event and the time also marks the top time in the A-Sun in the event this season. His time in the 5,000-meter run currently ranks 47th nationally this season.

Additionally, Kemboi also ran strong at the JRF Combined Events Invitational at Clemson's Indoor Track and Field Complex a couple of weeks ago. On that particular weekend, Kemboi posted an Atlantic Sun season-standard time in the 3000-meter run, posting a time of 8:24.08 en route to a second-place finish in the event.  

As a freshman last season, Kemboi also won the A-Sun's weekly men's track and field plaudit after the Niswonger Invitational, as he posted a school-record time of  14:35.19, shattering the previous mark of 16:07.98, set by James Jackson at the 2009 Niswonger Invitational. At that point in the season, Kemboi's time ranked as the 18th-fastest in NCAA Division I men's track and field.

During the fall, Kemboi claimed the A-Sun's "Runner of the Week" award on three occasions on his way to becoming the A-Sun individual title, while helping the Spartans post a third-place finish as a team in the A-Sun Cross Country Championship meet with 80 points. Kemboi's individual title saw him cross the finish line in 24:00.84, nearly 41 seconds ahead of the nearest competitor and was the second largest margin of victory in A-Sun history.

In just his sophomore season, Kemboi has now claimed eight total A-Sun weekly awards, combining both cross country and track and field. Kemboi and the Upstate men's track and field team returns to action on Saturday, traveling to Clemson, S.C., for the Tiger Paw Invitational. It will mark the final tune-up for the Spartans prior to the A-Sun Track and Field Championships in a couple of weeks at the MHSA Center on the campus of East Tennessee State University.

Schedule Of Events At Tiger Paw Invitational

The Tiger Paw Invitational will get underway Friday at 2:00 PM at Clemson's  indoor track facility, located in Jervey Meadows. The first scheduled events at that time are the women's 1000m run, as well as the open long jump, men's high jump and open women's weight throw. Due to the number of entries, invitational sections have been scheduled for the following events: 200m, 400m, pole vault, long jump, triple jump, shot put and weight throws.

Preliminary rounds, semifinals and finals for the men's and women's 60m dash and 60m hurdles will be held Friday.

On Saturday, the field events start at 9:30 AM with the open women's shot put, followed at 10:00 by open sections for the men's and women's triple jump. The first track event on Saturday will be the women's distance medley relay at 11:00.