JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (Jan. 10, 2005) - East Tennessee State University's head track and field coach David E. Walker and his staff are in the final stage of preparations for the third annual Niswonger Foundation Track and Field Invitational which begins on Friday. This year will be the third year that Niswonger has sponsored the meet and the 27th meet overall.
The event will showcase some of the world's top collegiate, post-collegiate, and professional athletes. The field of participants has increased dramatically since last year and currently over 80 men's and women's teams have entered this year's competition which is double in comparison to last year's 41 men's and women's teams.
In addition to ETSU, this year's field includes Atlantic Coast Conference schools such as Georgia Tech, Wake Forest, Florida State, and North Carolina, as well as Southeastern Conference schools Alabama and Tennessee. A contingent of athletes from the Southern Conference is also set to participate in the event as Appalachian State, College of Charleston, The Citadel, Georgia Southern, UNC Greensboro, and Western Carolina will help ETSU in representing the SoCon.
This year's meet features the following six elite invitational events: women's and men's 3000 meters, women's and men's 60-meter dash, and women's and men's 60-meter hurdles.
Some of the world-class athletes participating in this year's meet include ETSU alumni Catherine Berry, a native of Surrey, England. Last year Berry competed at the IAAF Grand Prix II meet in Heusden, Belgium and reached the Olympic ‘B' Standard (15:20.45) in the 5000 meters with a time of 15:19.72 a new personal best. During her career at ETSU from 1997-2000, Berry earned All-American honors in the 5000 meters and made six trips to NCAA meets, three for cross country and three for track and field. Berry holds the Buccaneer record in the outdoor 3000 meters with a time of 9:29.91 set in 1999. Berry will compete in the 3000 meter invitational.
USA Track and Field's Miguel Pate and Savanté Stringfellow, both sponsored by Nike, will compete in the long jump.
Pate was the 2002 and 2003 USA Indoor champion and placed third at the 2003 World Indoor Championships. In 2002 Pate claimed the NCAA Indoor Championship and in 2001, he was the World University Games champion and placed fourth at the World Outdoor Championships. He holds personal bests of 8.59m in the long jump and 16.62m in the triple jump.
Stringfellow earned a gold medal at the 2004 World Indoor Championships and was the World Outdoor silver medalist in 2001. He is a two-time USA Indoor long jump champion winning the event in 2000 and in 2004, and a two-time USA Outdoor long jump champion winning the event in 2001 and 2002. During his career at Mississippi State, Stringfellow was a four-time NCAA champion. His personal best stands at 8.52m and he holds the Niswonger Foundation long jump record with an 8.15m mark.
The French National team will also be making their second appearance at the meet and will bring 20 athletes to this year's competition including Ladji Doucouré, who recently finished eighth in the 110-meter hurdles at the Olympics in Athens, Greece. Doucouré holds a personal best of 6.77 in the 60-meter dash and 7.54 in the 60-meter hurdles.
The Niswonger Invitational begins Friday at 11:30 a.m. and the final event of the evening is set to begin at 9:00 p.m. Saturday's events begin at 8:00 a.m. and run all day with the last event scheduled for 6:30 p.m.
To purchase tickets for the meet please contact the ETSU ticket office at (423) 439-ETSU (3878). The ticket price for both days of competition is $10 for adults and $4 for students and youth. Each adult ticket purchased enters the individual in a drawing to win a framed autographed picture of NASCAR legend Dale Eanrhardt and his son Dale Earnhardt Jr. The drawing will be held on Saturday and individuals must be present to win.For more information on the Niswonger Track and Field Invitational including a detailed schedule, list of entrants, and results from the meet please visit www.flashresults.com/etsu.