Jacksonville, Fla. – USC Upstate pole vaulter Justin Crawford came to the 2011 A-Sun Outdoor Track & Field Championships having already claimed an A-Sun title in the event in 2009. He topped that performance, claiming the pole vault championship with an A-Sun record height of 4.75 meters to highlight a solid day for the Spartans.
Crawford, a senior from Elgin, S.C., cleared the record height to win the title over two vaulters who cleared 4.60 meters. The 4.75-meter height ties the height cleared by Jeremy Longshore in the 2008 Championships.
"I am really proud of Justin," said Upstate head coach Jimmy Stephens. "He always steps up when it is time to compete. His season started off rough, but he has really stepped up the last couple of meets and has come on strong. He is a true competitor.
"One thing every good pole vaulter does is first attempt clearances. He has always been good at clearing heights on his first attempt which puts pressure on the competition. He was not the favorite coming into the meet, but he came out on top in the end.
In addition to Crawford, Perrish Goggins (Columbia, S.C.) also turned in a strong first day of the Championships being held at the University of North Florida. Goggins turned in a jump of 7.01 meters to finish third in the long jump. He will compete in the high jump and triple jump Saturday.
"Perrish had another great day of competition," said Stephens. "Just like Justin, he always steps up in big events. He had a couple of really close scratches where he was well over 24 feet. He is jumping great and I am excited to see what he can do tomorrow."
Ben Wheeler (Spartanburg, S.C.) and Brandon Curry (Anderson, S.C.) had solid outings in the 110-meter hurdle qualifying heats. Wheeler claimed fourth with a school record time of 14.47. Curry was seventh with a time of 14.92.
"Ben and Brandon ran pretty well today," said Stephens. "The main thing is that they made the finals. They need to step up and compete well tomorrow. In the hurdles when you get to the finals, you never know what can happen."
On the women's side, Jemeli Sang (Eldoret, Kenya) claimed third place in the 10,000-meter run. She ran the distance in 36:44.05 to finish ahead of teammate Carolyne Chelulei (Eldoret, Kenya), who finished fourth with a time of 38:08.62.
LaTerrica Blocker (Stone Mountain, Ga.) had a solid first day in the heptathlon. She finished second in the shot put and high jump portions of the event, while finishing third in the 200-meter dash. She was eighth in the 110-meter hurdles.
The men's team is currently in fifth place heading into the final day of competition on Saturday. The Spartans have 20 points. Kennesaw State leads the meet with 60 points. On the women's side, Upstate owns seventh place with 11 points. Kennesaw State leads with 52 points.