SPARTANBURG, S.C. (Feb. 25, 2004) - The Southern Conference Men's and Women's Indoor Track and Field Championships will begin this Friday, February 27 at the Memorial Center on the campus of East Tennessee State University in Johnson City, TN.
Competition will run through Saturday afternoon as the conference will crown its 68th men's and 17th women's indoor team champions.
Appalachian State's men's squad has won two consecutive titles while the Mountaineers' women's team has claimed three championships in a row. In 2003, the men dominated the competition, besting second place Western Carolina by 68.5 points. ASU's women's team finished 28 points ahead of Chattanooga last season.
This season, the Mountaineers are solidly in first place on both sides of the SoCon power rankings, which ranks conference schools based on their best performances of the season. Heading into this weekend, Appalachian State leads the men's power rankings with Western Carolina and Chattanooga following behind. ASU's women lead Georgia Southern with Chattanooga and Western Carolina close on the Eagles' heels.
Two individual champions from the 2003 meet return on the men's side to defends their crowns. East Tennessee State junior distance runner Brad Yewer (Newbury, England), the Most Outstanding Track Performer in 2003, looks to repeat his three titles in the mile, 3,000 meter, and 5,000 meter runs. Chattanooga's Colin Sullivan and Steven Kocsis have posted the best times in the mile run and the 3,000 meter run thus far in 2004 with Yewer having the second best time in both events. If Yewer repeats in all three events, he would be the first student-athlete to do so since ETSU's Seamus Power won 11 of a possible 12 titles in the mile, 3,000 meter, and 5,000 meter runs from 1991 through 1994.
Appalachian State's Anthony Greer, the 2003 shot put champion, also returns this season in hopes of claiming another title. Greer, only a sophomore, has posted the second best throw this season, just one foot and two inches behind teammate Bob Smith's conference-leading 55' 6 1/4".
New events in this year's meet include the heptathlon for the men and the pentathlon for the women, along with the changing of the 55 meter run and 55 meter hurdles to a distance of 60 meters for each event.
Three women student-athletes will also be vying to duplicate their individual championships from the 2003 meet, including two-time winner Ronda White of Appalachian State. White was the 2003 champion in the triple jump and the 55 meter hurdles, and she currently boasts the top marks in those events thus far in 2004. Another two-event champion from last season's championships who returns to defend her titles this year is Chattanooga's Shannon Womack. Womack won both the mile run and 3,000 meter run in 2003,
and she has recorded the best times in both events by a considerable margin in 2004.
In the field events, 2003 long jump champion Kellie Mitchell of Georgia Southern will try to defend her title against stiff competition, including Chattanooga's Kasola Smith, who finished second to Mitchell last season and whose jump of 19' 7" this season leads the conference by seven inches over the next competitor.
Admission to the meet is free. The action for the 2004 Southern Conference Men's and Women's Indoor Track & Field Championships kicks off at 8:30 a.m. on Friday, February 27 and will culminate with the presentation of awards at 4:15 pm on Saturday, February 28 in Johnson City, TN.
Complete results will be available on the Southern Conference Indoor Track & Field page at www.SoConSports.com.