SPARTANBURG, S.C. – The USC Upstate men's and women's track and field teams travel to Chapel Hill, N.C., for the Kent Taylor Invitational tomorrow.
The Upstate programs return to action after a successful outing last weekend at the Niswonger Invitational hosted by ETSU Jan. 28, setting six school records. Sophomore Matt Johnson (Elgin, S.C.) led the Spartan men last week, recording three school-best times. He posted Upstate records in the men's 200-meter, 400-meter and 800-meter events, while claiming first in the 800-meter with a time of 1:54.61. Johnson earned a fourth-place finish in the 400-meter with a time of 48.88, while taking 27th in the 200-meter with a time of 22.58.
The Spartans claimed the Atlantic Sun Conference Male Indoor Track Athlete of the Week and A-Sun Female Indoor Track Athlete of the Week awards this last week as junior Gilbert Kemboi (Eldoret, Kenya) and senior Jemeli Sang (Eldoret, Kenya) picked up those respective honors. Kemobi set a school record at ETSU in the men's 5,000-meter with a top-place finish, crossing the line in 14:23.19. His time ranks as the best in the A-Sun and 18th in the nation in the men's 5,000-meter. Sang set a school record in the women's 3,000-meter at the Niswonger Invite with a winning time of 9:51.61. Her time broke the previous school record by 12 seconds and her performance ranks first in the conference.
Spartan records continued to fall last weekend in the men's weight throw as junior Kenneth Sugishita (Arroyo Grande, Calif.) posted a mark of 16.98-meters (55-08.50) to claim sixth. He came in second in the shot put with a performance of 15.94-meters (52-03.75). His performance in both events ranks first in the conference.
"We will see some good completion this weekend and I am hoping that our students will step-up and compete," said head coach Natalie Smith. "This weekend we are looking for some of our athletes to start making some moves up in the conference rankings and for those who haven't started to bloom yet to begin to show signs of growth. I do believe that quite a few of our athletes are starting to get that sense of urgency that every coach looks for at this point in a season. We are looking for our athletes to maximize every opportunity they have to compete to fine tune their respective events so as we get deeper into the year things will begin to happen naturally and everything will start to come together. This is when you see your marks increase and your times decrease. This weekend will be interesting and we are looking forward to it."
At the Kent Taylor Invite, Johnson will return to compete in the men's 200-meter again, while also participating in the men's 4x400 relay. He will be joined in the relay by his brother Michael Johnson (Elgin, S.C.), junior Cameron Thomas (Niceville, Fla.) and freshman Evan Woodruff (Sebastian, Fla.). At the Niswonger Invite, Michael Johnson came in second in the 800-meter, clocking in at 1:57.25, while Woodruff was fifth with a time of 2.00.23.
Junior Davey Dennison (Carlisle, Pa.) will complete the mile this weekend for the Spartan men. Last week in the men's 5,000-meter he came in ninth-place with a time of 15:08.16. Brandon Curry (Anderson, S.C.), another Spartan junior, is scheduled to participate in the men's 60-meter and men's 60-meter hurdles at North Carolina. At ETSU, he collected a ninth-place finish with a time of 8.43 in the 60-meter hurdles.
Senior Perrish Goggins (Columbia, S.C.) is slated to compete in the men's high jump, long jump and 60-meter dash. Last weekend, he posted strong scores for Upstate in the jump department for the men. He tallied a sixth-place finish in the high jump with a mark of 6-04.75 and an eighth-place finish in the long jump with a mark of 22-09.75.
On the women's side, Sang returns to competition at the Kent Taylor Invite, participating in the one mile run. She will be joined by classmate Carolyne Chelulei (Eldoret, Kenya) in the event. Last weekend, Chelulei placed seventh in the 3,000-meter, clocking in at 10:15.31. Senior Joan Tangwar (Eldoret, Kenya) is scheduled to take part in the 800-meter and 4x400 relay. At ETSU, she finished third in the 3,000-meter with a time of 10:04.40. Tangwar will be joined in the relay by sophomore Ashley Edmond (Hopkins, S.C.), junior Velegar Mark (Spartanburg, S.C.) and freshman Jasmine Polite (Goose Creek, S.C.).
Freshman Breana Kwasnik (Greenville, S.C.) will represent the Spartan women in the pole vault this weekend. At the Niswonger Invite, she recorded a score of 10-06.00 in the pole vault, which was good enough for 11th place.