SPARTANBURG, S.C. – Four years ago, USC Upstate began a journey to join the NCAA Division I ranks and pending approval by the NCAA Board of Governors, Upstate will become an active member of D-I on Sept. 1, 2011. With the transitional phase nearly complete, the media relations office takes a look back at some of the top moments of the transitional phase, today's spotlight, men's and women's cross country.
On July 1, the top 10 moments of the transition were compiled into an online web poll and thanks to the votes of Spartan fans, the final tally is in. Without any further ado, here are the top three moments of the transitional phase for Upstate cross country.
Moment No. 3
Spartans Women's Cross Country Finishes 4th at A-Sun Championships
October 10, 2010
With three strong performances leading to three all-conference selections, the USC Upstate women's cross country team finished fourth at the 2010 A-Sun Cross Country Championships hosted by Upstate at the Milliken Research Park in Spartanburg.
With the level of talented runners across the conference at its best since the Spartans joined the A-Sun in 2007, Upstate maintained its conference finish position, tying for its best finish ever at fourth place, 12 points out of a third-place finish.
Entering the conference meet with two individual titles throughout the regular season, Joan Tangwar (Eldoret, Kenya) finished fifth with a time of 17:56.47 to earn A-Sun First-Team All-Conference honors. She became the third Spartan to earn first team honors since 2007, joining her sister Emily Tangwar (Eldoret, Kenya), who finished second in 2007, and Jemeli Sang (Eldoret, Kenya), who finished fifth in 2009.
While Tangwar led the way for the Spartans, Upstate also got strong performances from Carolyne Chelulei (Eldoret, Kenya) and Sang. Chelulei finished ninth with a time of 18:01.40 and Sang was 14th with a time of 18:12.15 to earn spots as second-team all-conference selections.
Moment No. 2
Dennison Sets Personal Best, Finishes 8th at 2010 A-Sun Cross Country Championships
October 30, 2010
Sophomore Davey Dennison set a personal best and joined teammate Gilbert Kemboi to lead the USC Upstate men's cross country team to a third-place finish in the 2010 A-Sun Cross Country Championships hosted by Upstate at the Milliken Research Park in Spartanburg.
Dennison, from Carlisle, Pa., not only turned in his top time of the season, but he set a personal best with a time of 25:12.87 to finish eighth in the championship. The time was an improvement of nearly 16 seconds over his time of 25:28.06 in a nationally-ranked field at the Greater Louisville Classic a few weeks earlier.
Dennison earned A-Sun Second-Team All-Conference honors. He is the first Spartan to earn second-team all-conference honors in the A-Sun and is just the second person overall to earn an all-conference nod. Gilbert Kemboi earned first team selections in 2009 and 2010.
Dennison had a solid year in 2010, culminating in his strong performance at the A-Sun Championships. His time in the meet placed him second on Upstate's all-time records section. Kemboi is the program's top performer, but Dennison is the next runner on the all-time list. He clearly likes the Milliken track, finishing in the top 10 in three events there in 2010. He finished fifth at the prestigious Eye Opener Meet to start the season in September and claimed 11th at the Upstate Invitation in mid-October leading up to the A-Sun Championships.
Coupled with Kemboi's first-place finish in the 2010 A-Sun Championships, Dennison helped lead the Spartans to its best finish ever in the meet, a third-place effort. The Spartans finished 12 points out of second place and 25 out of first.
Moment No. 1
Kemboi Dominates Competition to Win A-Sun Cross Country Championship
October 30, 2010
Having entered the 2010 A-Sun Cross Country Championships with three regular season meet titles, sophomore Gilbert Kemboi dominated the field and won the championship by 40 seconds over the second-place finisher in the conference meet hosted by Upstate at the Milliken Research Park in Spartanburg.
Kemboi, from Eldoret, Kenya, had a dominant season. He won three A-Sun Runner of the Week honors and claimed the individual championships at the Eye Opener Meet, Clemson Invitational and Upstate Invitational during the regular season. He also finished third in a highly-touted meet at the Greater Louisville Classic, a meet that featured over 300 runners and numerous nationally-ranked participants. His time of 23:22.28 in the meet stands as the all-time 8k record at Upstate. He earned recognition by Sports Illustrated, being featured in the magazine's "Faces in the Crowd" section.
But, it was his performance in the A-Sun Championships that was his crowning achievement of the season. He bolted off the starting line and gained the lead within 100 yards of the race. He didn't look back. He crossed the finish line with a time 24:00.84, which actually turned out to be his fourth-fastest time of the season. The 40-second margin of victory was the second-largest in the history of the A-Sun Championship and his time was the second-fastest time in league history.
By winning the individual championship, Kemboi earned A-Sun Runner of the Year honors and was a first-team all-conference selection. It marked his second-straight first team all-conference nod. He is the only Spartan male cross country runner to earn first team accolades in Upstate's four-year membership in the league. His performance, coupled with that of second-team all-conference selection Davey Dennison (Carlisle, Pa.) and all-freshman team member Andrew Kipchumba (Eldoret, Kenya), led the Spartans to a third-place finish in the meet.
The media relations office will continue to release the top three moments from each sport leading up to the first athletic competition of the 2011-12 academic year, a women's soccer exhibition match against Spartanburg Methodist College on Aug. 16 at 6 p.m.
Men's & Women's Cross Country
Men's & Women's Golf (Aug. 8)
Men's Soccer (Aug. 9)
Women's Soccer (Aug. 10)
Softball (Aug. 11)
Men's & Women's Tennis (Aug. 12)
Men's & Women's Track and Field (Aug. 15)
Volleyball (Aug. 16)