JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – On the final day of the Atlantic Sun Conference Outdoor Track and Field Championships, USC Upstate had six top-three finishes on Saturday afternoon at Hodges Stadium on the campus of the University of North Florida.
The men's squad finished fifth after totaling 84 points and the 84 combined points are the most ever for the Spartans. Meanwhile, the women's team finished eighth with 23 combined points.
"We have a really tough and hard working team," said head coach Jimmy Stephens. "We may not have finished with the most points, but I guarantee you that we are the team that does the most with what we are given. I am so proud of these men and women. Our team posted personal bests and school records this weekend. As a coach that is all you can ask of them and I cannot say enough about the effort these men and women gave."
In the men's high jump, Perrish Goggins (Columbia, S.C.) earned the silver medal after clearing a height of 2.05m. Kennesaw State senior Jerome McKinzie claimed the individual crown.
"Our men's team did an outstanding job of competing this weekend," said associate head coach Carson Blackwelder. "They rose to the occasion and proved that they can run with anyone in this conference.
In the men's 400-meter dash, Michael Meissner, the reigning champion, finished third-overall after edging out James Verdi (Kennesaw State) by .01. Meissner, who posted a school-record time of 48.25, was just .11 behind second-place finisher Jayshawn Campbell of Campbell (48.14).
"It is tough on me to know that this is the end for some of our team members who were the first group of track & field recruits to come to Upstate four years ago," added Stephens. "We have also picked up some guys along the way that will be graduating and they will be tough to replace."
Upstate had a pair of runners take the medal stand after strong performances in the 800-meter run. Michael Johnson (Elgin, S.C.) finished second with a time of 1:54.62, while Cameron Thomas (Niceville, Fla.) finished third (1:54.72).
The men's 4x400 relay team of Cameron Thomas, Michael Johnson (Elgin, S.C.), Matt Johnson and Meissner finished second with a school-record time of 3:15.57. The Spartan relay team finished just half-of-a-second behind ETSU's relay team.
Jemeli Sang (Eldoret, Kenya) finished third in the 5,000-meter run behind a time of 17:27.46. Sang's time was a personal-best for the Spartan junior.
Despite not placing, the Spartans set three other school-records on Saturday. Kathryn Neely (Rock Hill, S.C.) posted a school-mark in the 400-meter hurdles (1:13.91).
Meanwhile, Ashley Edmond (Columbia, S.C.) set a pair of school records on Saturday. Edmond set a school-best time 25.48 in the 200-meter dash followed by a school-record time of 58.01 in the 400-meter dash.
"Moving forward we need to build on what we have done," Stephens stated. "To be a program that is only four years old and has 13 conference championships is very exciting. I would have never thought that this group of athletes would have accomplished so much in such a short amount of time. We have a great foundation for the program moving forward. The A-Sun continues to get strong and stronger. We have to step up and continue to move our program forward. We have a lot of work ahead of us in order to push Upstate Track & Field forward."