Upstate Track and Field Teams Set For Atlantic Sun Championship Meet Friday
SPARTANS TRACK AND FIELD TEAMS PREPARE FOR ATLANTIC SUN CHAMPIONSHIPS
SPARTANBURG, S.C.—The USC Upstate men's and women's track and field teams travel to Johnson City, Tenn., to take part in the Atlantic Sun track and field championships to be held in Johnson City, Tenn., Friday and Saturday at the MHSA Center on the campus of East Tennessee State University. The Spartans have a quiet confidence heading into what will now be their fourth conference meet.
Youth Serves Spartans Well At 2010 A-Sun Championships
Several strong performances were put forth by the Spartans at the 2010 Indoor Championships. Among them was the performance put forth by Gilbert Kemboi, who claimed two individual championships for the Spartans, in the 5,000-meter run (14:51.37) and the 3,000-meter run (8:23.37).
Among the other strong individual performances at the 2010 Indoor Track and Field Championships at East Tennessee State were those put forth by junior Eric Chapman and freshman Brandon Curry. Chapman took fifth-place in the weight throw, with a toss of 47-01.75/14.37m. Meanwhile, Curry put forth a solid effort in the 60-meter hurdles, as he posted a time of 8.76 for a fifth-place and just two spots ahead of freshman teammate Danny Moore, who posted a time of 9.10.
"Eric did great in the weight throw," said Upstate head track and field coach Jimmy Stephens. "He barely fouled in his final throw and that might have put him on the medal stand. The hammer throw is his strongest event and I am excited to see what he will be able to do during the outdoor season."
Freshman David Dennison finished fourth in the mile run, and his time of 4:22.94 was less than a second away from putting another Spartan Freshman on the medal stand. Senior Cameron Thomas was able to put forth a program record-setting performance in the 800-meter run, posting a time of 1:57.71 for a seventh-place overall finish in the event.
"All of our freshman distance runners have worked hard all year long," said Stephens. "I am really excited to see what they can do during the outdoor season as well as what they can do when they are sophomores."
One of the more pronounced performances from the Spartan women came from sophomore Carolyne Chelulei. Chelulei finished second overall in the 5,000-meter run, posting a time of 17:26.83. On the opening day of the A-Sun Championships, Chelulei was strong in the 3,000-meter run claiming the lone Spartan individual title on the women's side, as she set a new school-record with a time of 10:03.02. Chelulei defeated Mackenzie Howe of Kennesaw State by less than half a second.
"All of our women's distance runners had a great day," said Stephens. "All of them set personal marks and I am proud of everything they have done. I expect them to continue to their strong performances as we enter the outdoor season here in a couple of weeks."
Not to be overshadowed by Chelulei's superlative performance at the A-Sun Indoor Championships, junior Jemeli Sang and was not far behind Chelulei in the 3,000-meter run, as she posted a fourth-place finish in the event, posting a time of 10:11.97. In the women's 60-meter dash, junior Gabrielle Walker set a new school record of 7.97 as she just missed qualifying for the finals by .03.
Kemboi Earns Most Outstanding Freshman at 2010 A-Sun Championships
As a result of his sensational freshman season, Gilbert Kemboi garnered Atlantic Sun "Most Outstanding Freshman Performer" honors, which was of course the top individual highlight of the 2009-10 track season. Kemboi was able to set new school indoor standards in the mile run (4:20.30), 3,000-meter run (8:23.37) and 5,000 meter run (14:35.19), further accentuating his outstanding inaugural season in the Hub City. Kemboi set his mark in the mile run at the UNC Invitational (2/12/10), recording a seventh-place finish in the event, while registering new school standard in the 3,000-meter run with his individual title at the Atlantic Sun Championships (2/26/10). His record in the 5,000-meter came at the Clemson Games earlier in the indoor season.
A Brief Recap of The 2010-11 Upstate Indoor Track and Field Season
The 2010-11 Indoor track and field season got underway with what would become a familiar venue for the USC Upstate men's and women's track teams, as the Spartans competed in the Orange and Purple Classic at the Clemson Indoor Field Complex. It would be the first of three visits to the facility and would serve as the platform for many of the Spartans' record-setting moments in the indoor season.
It was impressive start to what promises to be a career filled with superlatives for Ben Wheeler. The junior newcomer and Hub City native set a school record in his first ever event competing for the Spartans men's track and field team. He posted a school-record setting time of 8.34 in the 60-meter hurdles, besting the previous mark of sophomore Brandon Curry (Anderson, S.C./Pendleton HS) , who posted a 8.63 in the event the previous indoor season at the Niswonger Invitational (1/29/10). For his efforts in the event, Wheeler posted an eighth-place finish.
Freshman mid-distance runner Michael Johnson (Elgin, S.C./Spring Valley HS) would also get his Upstate track and field career underway in style, fashioning a ninth-place finish in the men's 500-meter dash with a time of 1:07.33 in the event. That time was also good enough to set a new school mark in the event, besting Derrick Winslett's previous mark of 1:16.22 set at the Niswonger Invitational in 2009.
Another strong performance on the men's side was turned in by Moncks Corner, S.C. native Kalib Law, as he posted a 15th-place finish in the 800-meter run, posting a time of 2:05.47 in the event, who was good enough to garner him a spot on the school's all-time top five ledger in the event.
On the women's side, it was the freshmen tandem of Ashley Edmond (Columbia, S.C/Lower Richland HS) and Maya Adams (Columbia, S.C./Ridge View HS) that turned in the most impressive performances at the 2010-11 season-opening meet. Edmond, a native of Columbia, S.C., fashioned a time of 42.96 in the 300-meter dash en route to finishing 27th overall in the event and setting a new school mark in the process. Her time in the event was good enough to overcome Kiah White's previous school standard of 44.29, which was set at the 2009 Niswonger Invitational. Adams was also impressive in the event, as she posted a time of 44.80.
Following the Christmas break, the Upstate men's and women's teams returned to the track to take part in the JRF Combined Events Invitational, which was once again held at the Clemson Indoor Track and Field Complex. Highlighting the first day of competition was junior Perrish Goggins (Columbia, S.C./C.A. Johnson Prep). Goggins, the A-Sun Most Valuable Field Performer in 2009, redshirted the 2010 season, but didn't appear to show any rust as a result of his one-year hiatus. The Columbia, S.C., native posted a second-place finish in the high jump, clearing a height of 7.12m (23'4.5"). That mark stands as the second-best leap of the Atlantic Sun season thus far, trailing only Campbell's Diego Lawrence, who posted a leap of 7.54m (24'9") at the Tyson Invitational.
Ben Wheeler (Spartanburg, S.C./Coastal Carolina) also had a strong competition for the Spartan men, as he posted new school marks in the 60-meter hurdles (8.30) and would post a fifth-place finish in the event. Justin Crawford also set a new school mark in the pole vault at the JRF Invitational, posting a vault of 4.65m, which ranks as the second-best vault in the A-Sun this season.
Gilbert Kemboi (Eldoret, Kenya/Kangetuny). Kemboi was able to pick 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 in that second-place finish. That mark in the 3,000-meter run still ranks as the second-best time in the A-Sun this season.
Newcomer Kenneth Sugishita (Arroyo Grande, CA/Arroyo Grande HS) set his second school mark in as many days, as he was able to post a new school-mark 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. Yesterday, Sugishita was 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. That mark in the weight throw is tied for the fourth-best throw of the season in the weight throw.
From there, it was on to the Niswonger Invitational for the Upstate men's and women's track teams. It was also another weekend filled with record-setting moments for the Spartans, as well as one for once again posting some of the best performances of the A-Sun indoor season in a couple of events.
Upstate senior distance runner Joan Tangwar (Eldoret, Kenya/St. Joseph's Girls) highlighted another strong day of competition for the Spartan women's track and field team, while junior Perrish Goggins (Columbia, S.C./C.A. Johnson Prep) and sophomore distance runner Gilbert Kemboi (Eldoret, Kenya/Kangetuny HS) turned in a pair of top-three finishes in the men's 5,000-meter run and the high-jump to highlight another strong comprehensive effort for the Spartan men's and women's track and field teams Saturday to close out the 33rd Niswonger Invitational.
Kemboi has posted some his strongest performances as a Spartan at the MHSA Athletic Complex on the campus of East Tennessee State University and Saturday's second-place finish in the 5,000-meter run was no different. Kemboi was able to post a time of 14:36.46, nearly surpassing his previous record of 14:35.19 set as a freshman in the 32nd Niswonger Invitational, which was also held at the same venue. The time also still stands as the top time in the 5,000-meter run among A-Sun competitors this season.
Goggins posted his second-straight week with a top-three finish in the high jump, as he finished third by clearing a height of 6-08.00 (2.03m). Goggins just missed his school-record which he set in the event back in the 2009 Appalachian Limited Invitational when he cleared a height of 6-09.00 (2.06m). His mark in the high jump ranks is tied for the top performance in the high jump this season with Kennesaw State's Cameron Zeman.
Junior Kenneth Sugishita (Arroyo Grande, CA./Arroyo Grande HS) added another superlative, record-breaking performance to keep his streak alive of setting a new mark in every indoor he has competed in so far for the Spartan men's field performers. In the shot put, Sugishita shattered his previous record in the event, as he recorded a toss of 52-11.50 (16.14m) to finish fifth in the event. His mark set at the Niswonger on Saturday bested his previous record-setting performance by over three feet, which he set just last weekend at the JRF Combined Events Invitational. His mark in the shot put at the Niswonger still ranks as the second-best performance in the event this indoor season.
Ashley Edmond set a new school-record performance in the 400-meter dash, as she posted a time of 60.62 to finish 46th in the even en route to setting a new school mark. Edmond's time in the event surpassed the previous standard set by Kiah White's time of 60.82 set back in the 2008 season at the Atlantic Sun Championships.
The Upstate men's and women's track and field teams had their final tune-up for the A-Sun Conference meet last weekend at the Tiger Paw Invitational. Highlighting the performances for the Spartan men were Freshman mid-distance runner Matt Johnson (Elgin, S.C./Spring Valley HS).
Johnson, a freshman from Elgin, S.C., won the 500-meter dash, posting a time of 1:05.22 to shatter the previous school mark of 1:07.33, which he recorded back indoor season lid-lifter in December at the Orange and Purple Classic, which was also held at Clemson's Indoor Track and Field venue. Dustin Thomas (Niceville, FL/Niceville HS) also posted a solid time in the men's 500-meter dash, finishing 22nd with a time of 1:55.78.
Junior Perrish Goggins put forth a couple more strong efforts in the field events for the Spartans, posting solid performances in both the men's high jump and long jump. In the high jump, the Columbia, S.C., native cleared a height of 6-04.75 to finish 16th overall in the event. In the long-jump, Goggins posted a top-10 finish, as he finished ninth in the competition by recording a leap distance of 22-02.75.
In the men's weight throw, senior Cowpens, S.C., native Eric Chapman (Cowpens, S.C./Broome HS) tied Kenny Sugishita's school-record of 51-08.50 set just last week at the Niswonger Invitational in Johnson City, Tenn. Chapman's effort was good enough to ensure him of a top-10 finish in the weight throw, as he finished 10th in the event.
It was also another record-setting day for junior transfer Ben Wheeler, who posted a strong performance in the men's 60-meter hurdles, clocking a time of 8.18 en route to a seventh-place finish in the semifinals. That mark bested Wheeler's previous school-standard achievement of 8.30 in the event set just a couple of weeks ago at the JRF Combined Events Invitational on the Clemson University campus. Wheeler also kept his record-setting streak intact, having now set school marks in each of the four meets he has competed in as a Spartan. His school-record-setting mark in the 60-meter hurdles ranks as the fourth-best effort in the A-Sun this season.
There were also solid performances on the women's side, as Gabby Walker posted a solid 8.19 time in the 60-meter dash prelims, while teammates Laterrica Blocker (Stone Mountain, GA./Redan HS) and Ashley Edmond weren't all that far behind in the same event, registering times of 8.22 and 8.41, respectively.
The Upstate men's track team came through with a school-record on the day in the 4x400 relay. Michael Meissner (Cottage Grove, Minn./UW-River Falls), Matt Johnson, Michael Johnson (Elgin, S.C./Spring Valley HS) and Kalib Law helped the Spartan relay team to an eighth-place finish and a new school-record time of 3:22.33 for an eighth-place finish. That record shattered the previous mark of 3:28.80, which was set at the JRF Invitational a couple of weeks ago.
Kemboi Wins A-Sun's Weekly Award After Strong Performance At Niswonger Invitational
SPARTANBURG, S.C.—USC Upstate sophomore distance runner Gilbert Kemboi was named the Atlantic Sun men's track Athlete of The Week, as selected by the league office earlier Wednesday afternoon.
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.
A Brief Preview Of The A-Sun Competition
East Tennessee State- The Buccaneers are the host school and will be one of the favorites to take the men's A-Sun crown on their home turf this weekend inside the MHSA Center. Last year, East Tennessee State was on the wrong end of a heartbreaking attempt to garner its fourth men's track and field Atlantic Sun Championship, as the Bucs were edged out by Kennesaw State on the final points ledger after entering the final day of the 2010 A-Sun title meet 23 points clear of the Owls. The Bucs have been led on the men's side by two-time 2011 A-Sun Field Athlete of the Week Jarrod Burton on the men's side, while Jasmine Ingram, who has won four-career A-Sun weekly honors on the women's side, leads the Buccaneer sprints team. She helped the Buccaneer women's track team forge a sixth-place finish at last year's A-Sun Championships.
Kennesaw State-Another of the favorites to claim the A-Sun indoor championship on both the men's and women's side are the Kennesaw State Owls. The tradition-rich program is coming off a strong 2010 performance, which saw the Owls win their second men's Atlantic Sun Track and Field crown in three years, as a memorable meet came down to the final event, which was the 4x400 relay. Trailing East Tennessee State after the first day of competition, the Owls used 15 top-three performances on the final day , including a couple of individual championships, which helped the Owls overcome the deficit they faced after the first day of competition. On the women's side, the Owls finished as the 2010 A-Sun runner-up, losing out on the trophy to the Jacksonville Dolphins. The Owls completed the rare clean sweep of the A-Sun weekly awards on the women's side back on Jan. 12, as Jill Arthur and Brittany Robinson took home the weekly honors for field and track athletes of the week. Arthur took home the honor for A-Sun "Field Athlete of the Week", as she was able produced a jump distance of 12.21 meters in the triple jump at the Clemson Invitational, which at the time, was the 12th-best mark nationally in the triple jump. Johnson, who excels as a mid-distance runner for the Owls, posted a top 10 finish in the 800 meters, finishing eighth with an impressive time of 2:30.79 at the Clemson Invitational. On the men's side, the Owls completed the same rare feat of a clean sweep at the Clemson Games a couple of weeks later, as Anjou Armaly and Jaako Nieminen, claiming the weekly plaudits as the conference field and track athletes of the week, respectively. Armaly set a school record in the triple jump at the Clemson Games, with a leap of 14.29, which was good enough for a sixth-place finish in the event. On the track, Nieminen, a distance runner for the Owls, set a school-record in the 3,000-meter run, which had stood strong for five years, posting a time of 8:31.51.
Belmont- Belmont will bring a solid contingent of athletes on both its men's and women's track and field squads to the MHSA Center this weekend. Last season saw the Bruins produce a fourth-place finish on the men's side at the A-Sun Indoor Champioship meet, with 52 points, while the Bruin women produced a seventh-place finish, amassing 34 total points. This season, the Bruins have been especially strong on the men's side in the field events, led by thrower Joe Frye. Frye won the A-Sun's weekly award for "Field Athlete of the Week" after his performance at the "Saluki Fast Start Meet" hosted by SIU Carbondale. In that event, Frye set a new school record in the weight throw, tossing for a distance of 18.84m (61'9.75"). On the women's side, senior Liz Codrington anchors a strong group of field athletes. Codrington excels in the triple jump, and on the same weekend that Frye claimed his A-Sun weekly award in the field events, Codrington matched her counterpart as she claimed her second-career weekly award in the field events. After posting marks of 5.59m in the long jump and 11.35m in the triple jump, Codrington ranked 30th and 37th nationally in those respective aforementioned events at the conclusion of the Saluki Fast Start Meet.
Jacksonville- Though it only competes on the women's side, the Jacksonville Dolphins will look to defend their 2010 Atlantic Sun Title when they to the MHSA Center this weekend to take part in the final meet of the indoor season. In fact, Jacksonville has claimed every women's indoor title in the A-Sun since the inaugural championship meet back in 2006. Leading the way this season for the Dolphins in the field has been junior Ronishia Hall in the shot put, while sprinters Danielle Davenport and Unique Singleton anchor the Jacksonville women's sprint team.
Lipscomb-Lipscomb is coming off a 2010 Atlantic Sun Championship performance, which saw the Bisons men claim a fifth-place finish in the overall standings, with a total of 49 points, while the Bisons women's team posted an eighth-place finish in the final standings, with 18 points. Lipscomb boasts the Atlantic Sun's most recent men's track "Athlete of the Week" award winner, as freshman sprinter Tucker Peabody claimed the accolade after setting a school mark in the 200 meters, with a time of 21.89 at the Hoosier Hills Invitational hosted by Indiana University to take first place in the event. On the women's side, Tessa Hoeffle and Catherine Beals are solid for the Bisons in the distance events, as both produced record-setting marks last weekend at the Hoosier Hills Invitational.
North Florida- Like the USC Upstate, the North Florida Ospreys have seen rapid improvement in their men's and women's track and field programs over the past couple of seasons. On the women's side, the Ospreys are strong in the distance events. The North Florida men posted a seventh-place finish on the men's side last year with 43 points, while the women finished third with 98 total points. Shelby Kittrell was honored just this week as the A-Sun's women's track "Athlete Of The Week" on Wednesday after her performance at the Tiger Paw Invitational this past weekend, posting a career-best time of 9:48.03 in the 3,000-meter run. Like the Osprey women, the men's team favors the distance events as the team strength. A couple of weeks ago, distance runner James Post garnered the A-Sun's men's track "Athlete of the Week" award after posting what was at the time the best time in the men's mile, clocking a time of 4:13.31 at the Jimmy Carnes Invitational.
Campbell- Campbell saw its men post a third-place finish on the men's side last season, amassing 100 points, while the Camel women posted a fourth-place finish with 62.5 points at the 2010 A-Sun Championships. The Campbell men are led Rashad Campbell in sprints and is one of the top competitors in the 60 and 200 meters. Perhaps the best all-around performer for the Campbell men is Diego Lawrence, who will compete in the long-jump and 60 meters. On the women's side, Jessica Dunston and Nadia Natt highlight the lady competitors for the Camels. Natt and will compete in the women's triple jump, while Dunston will compete in the weight throw.