Spartan Track & Field Programs Seek Hardware at A-Sun Indoor Championships
SPARTANBURG, S.C. – The USC Upstate men's and women's track and field teams are set to compete at the Atlantic Sun Conference Indoor Track & Field Championships Feb. 17-18 in Johnson City, Tenn., hosted by ETSU.
Both squads look to improve on their marks from last year's championship meet. In 2011, the Spartan women finished seventh in the team standings, earning 15 points. The men's team posted a fourth-place finish, tallying 90 points. The Upstate men have an opportunity record a school-best finish as the Spartans have come in fourth twice (2011 and 2009), returning six all-conference selections from last year, including two two-event All-A-Sun honorees.
On the men's side, there should be many first-time A-Sun champions as only six of the 17 events feature past winners at the indoor championship. One of those six is Upstate junior Gilbert Kemboi (Eldoret, Kenya), who vies for his third individual event title in the 5,000-meter run. If successful, he would become only the third student-athlete to be a three-time event winner. Kemboi will also compete in the 3,000-meter run. He currently leads the A-Sun in both events, posting a time of 14:23.19 in the 5,000-meter and 8.23.37 in the 3,000-meter during the regular season.
Junior Davey Dennison (Carlisle, Pa.) is slated to compete in the men's one mile run. He currently leads the conference in that even with a winning time of 4:15.77 at North Carolina's Kent Taylor Invitational Feb. 4. Dennison will also participate in the men's distance medley relay alongside sophomore Matthew Johnson (Elgin, S.C.), sophomore Michael Johnson (Elgin, S.C.) and junior Cameron Thomas (Niceville, Fla.). The Johnson brothers and Thomas are also scheduled to take part in the men's 4x400 relay with freshman Evan Woodruff (Sebastian, Fla.) rounding out the quartet. The veteran trio earned All-Conference Second Team honors for their performance in the 4x400 at last year's A-Sun Championship.
Senior Perrish Goggins (Columbia, S.C.) earned All-A-Sun Second Team accolades at last year's indoor conference meet for his efforts in the men's high jump. He currently leads the Atlantic Sun in the men's high jump with a leap of 6-8.75 (2.05-meters) at Appalachian State's Mountaineer Split Indoor Open Jan. 19. Goggins is also slated to compete in the men's long jump and men's triple jump.
At the 2011 Indoor A-Sun Championships, Upstate junior Kenny Sugishita (Arroyo Grande, Calif.) claimed All-Conference Second Team marks in the men's shot put and All-A-Sun Third Team honors in the men's weight throw. He currently leads the A-Sun in both events during the regular season. Sugishita recorded a toss of 52-3.75 (15.94-meters) in the shot put at the Niswonger Invitational Feb. 27-28. At the same meet, he posted a mark of 55-8.5 (16.98-meters) in the weight throw.
Other Spartan men expected to record strong individual finishes include Thomas, junior Brandon Curry (Anderson, S.C.) and sophomore Isaiah Lyles (Inman, S.C.). Thomas will compete in the men's 800-meter run, while Curry should place well in the 60-meter hurdles. Lyles is slated to participate in the men's weight throw and shot put.
On the women's side, all eyes are on seniors Jemeli Sang (Eldoret, Kenya) and Joan Tangwar (Eldoret, Kenya) to battle for individual gold and silver in both the 3,000-meter and 5,000-meter events. Tangwar took home all-conference third team honors at last year's A-Sun meet for her performance in the women's 5,000-meter run. Tangwar currently leads the conference in the women's one mile with a time of 4:57.39 at Clemson's Tiger Paw Invitational Feb. 10. Sang leads the league in the women's 3,000-meter run with a time of 9:51.61 set at the Niswonger Invitational Jan. 28.
Other Spartan women expected to post strong finishes at this weekend's A-Sun Indoor Championships include senior Carolyne Chelulei (Eldoret, Kenya) and freshman Breana Kwasnik (Greenville, S.C.). Chelulei is scheduled to participate in the women's 3,000-meter and 5,000-meter events. Earlier this season, she registered a time of 10:15.31 in the 3,000-meter run at the Niswonger Invite Jan. 28. Kwasnik will compete in the pole vault for Upstate. She set a school record in the event at Clemson's Orange & Purple Classic Dec. 3, 2011 with a leap of 10-11.75 (3.35-meters).
Upstate Regular-Season Performance that would rank in the top-three of the A-Sun Championship Record Books:
Men's 3,000-Meter Run
Gilbert Kemboi; 8:17.66
Women's 3,000-Meter Run
Jemeli Sang; 9:51.61
Men's 5,000-Meter Run
Gilbert Kemboi; 14:23.19
Men's High Jump
Perrish Goggins; 2.05m