JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (Dec. 1, 2006) - The men and women's ETSU track and field team opens the indoor season this weekend at the Clemson Indoor Opener and at the Appalachian State Invitational. The Clemson Indoor Opener begins this evening in and will wrap up its events tomorrow. The Appalachian State Invitational is a one-day meet, which begins tomorrow morning in Boone, N.C.
The ETSU men are looking to make it back-to-back Atlantic Sun Indoor Championships, after winning the inaugural championship last season. For more information regarding the ETSU track and field team please read the preview below. For updated results regarding the meets please visit www.ETSUBucs.com.
Women's Track and Field Preview
Senior Anna Marie Ricciardi (Canfield, Ohio) is the top returning high jumper for the Lady Bucs in 2006-07. Ricciardi is searching for her second straight Atlantic Sun Indoor and Outdoor Championship in the event, after sweeping both last season. She claimed the indoor title with a jump of 5-7 ¾ (1.72m) and cleared 5-7 (1.70m) in the outdoor event. Ricciardi ended a stellar season by saving her best for last, as she cleared a career-best height of 5-9 ¼ (1.76m) at the NCAA Mid-East Regional Outdoor Championships.
Joining Ricciardi in the high jump this season is newcomer Jessica Ward from Nashville, Tenn. Ward arrived on campus this fall as a freshman, where she enjoyed a superb high school career at Christ Presbyterian Academy. During her senior season, Ward won the regional high jump title and placed seventh in the state.
After losing Christine Ward from last year's squad, head coach Michelle Byrne is turning to her underclassmen to fill the gap with a trio of freshmen runners, Victoria Currie (Dumfries, Scotland), Valerie Boothby (Glen Gardner, N.J.) and Christin Zink (Herndon, Va.), along with sophomores Heather Adkins (Kansas City, Mo.) and Ali Carney (Sevierville, Tenn.). These runners will provide the strength in the distance events.
Adkins is coming off an injury which sidelined her during the entire 2006 cross country season, but competed in the 3,000, 5,000 and 10,000-meters, along with the mile as a freshman last year. She finished first in her first collegiate 3,000 meters race at the Appalachian Invitational last season, snapping the tape in 11:03.99.
Currie led the Lady Bucs in cross country, as she was the first Buccaneer to cross the finish line in the final four meets of the season. "Boothby, Currie and Zink all of the opportunity to shine, and are talented enough to make an impact as freshmen," said Byrne.
Jenny Knox (Connelly Springs, N.C.) is the lone senior sprinter that will be leading the way for the Lady Bucs this upcoming season. Knox won her first collegiate title during the indoor season last year, winning the 200 meters at the Liberty Record Bash. Along with claiming her first title, Knox set personal-bests in the 100 and 200 events, as well as receiving all-Atlantic Sun conference honors. She also claimed the silver medal in the 100 meters at the conference outdoor championships.
After a late surge in her rookie season, sophomore Nae Nae Bailey (Statesville, N.C.) is ready to light up the track this season for ETSU. Bailey learned a lot last season and grew as a freshman, and by peaking late in the outdoor season she is hoping to carry over the success she had on the track into 2006-07. She ran a season-best 12.12 in the 100m at the A-Sun Outdoor Championships, and scored in both the 100 and 200m at the meet.
Two newcomers looking to provide a spark for the Lady Bucs include Jasmine Redford and Octavia
Burgess. Redford, a local native from Johnson City, Tenn., put together a sensational career at Science Hill High School. Burgess attended Freedom High in Morganton, N.C. "This is the best group of sprinters that we have had since I have arrived here," added coach Byrne.
In the hurdles, Ricciardi will be called upon to carry the load for the Lady Bucs. Ricciardi won the 100m event at the Milligan Open last season and posted a season-best at the Atlantic Sun Outdoor Championships with a time of 15.42.
Sophomore Dedra Jones (North Tazewell, Va.) is the only thrower on coach Stone's squad with collegiate experience, and will need to provide the leadership for the young team. She has looked very strong in preseason drills and hopes to convert her solid practices over to both the indoor and outdoor meets. Freshmen Zachlynn Blackburn (Tazewell, Va.), Brooke Beraducci (Knoxville, Tenn.) and Mallory Lampley-Davis (Decatur, Ga.) all hope to carry the success they shared at the high school level over to the more difficult collegiate atmosphere.
Beraducci shined in the shot put and discus events, winning the 2006 Tennessee state championship in the shot put and the sectional championship for discus. She also was named the 2006 AUU Indoor Champion and is the current AAU National Indoor record holder in the shot put. Blackburn was a three-time regional champion in the shot put and discus at Tazewell High School in Virginia. During her four years of competition with the Bulldogs, she managed to shatter all the school throwing records by throwing upwards of 40-feet in the shot put and over 135-feet in the discus.
Sprints / Hurdles / Multi's
The men are going to look for senior Johnny Tucker (Spartanburg, S.C.) to lead the Bucs sprinters in the 100 and 200 meters, along with the 4x100 relay. It's his time to shine after earning All-Atlantic Sun honors with his second-place finish in the 100 meters at the Outdoor championships last year. Tucker also ran a leg of the gold-medal winning 4x100m relay at the conference meet, and was apart of the squad that set a season-best at the Vanderbilt Invitational.
Joining Tucker in the sprints will be junior Tyler Woodruff (Sevierville, Tenn.) and freshman Chris Harrison (Woodbridge, Va.). Woodruff will participate in both sprints and hurdles, and will also be coming back to join Tucker in the 4x100 gold-medal relay team. He clocked a season-best in the 400 meters at the A-Sun Outdoor Championships last season, earning all-conference honors, as well as taking home the silver medal by running a leg in the 4x400 at the conference indoor championships. Harrison had a successful high school career, winning the 2005 state championship in the 4x400m relay, and finished second in the nation at the 2006 Nike Indoor Championships in the 4x200m relay.
Senior Mike Wright (Chattanooga, Tenn.) is hoping to repeat last year's success, as he won gold and a pair of silver medals at the A-Sun Outdoor Championships, taking second in the 110-meter hurdles and in the high jump. He was also apart of the gold-medal winning 4x100-meter relay squad, which will be looking to repeat its performance this season. Wright is also an exceptional multi-event athlete, winning the gold in the heptathlon with a final score of 4,455 as the A-Sun Indoor Championships.
Josh Hicks (Riceville, Tenn.) will be leading a solid group of young runners, as he is the lone senior in the distance events. Hicks earned All-Atlantic Sun honors last season, and captured his first conference crown in the 800 meters at the A-Sun Indoor Championships. He won his second gold at the conference championships being apart of the distance medley relay team, which featured returning runners Josh Rock (Spotsylvania, Va.), Jeff Crane (Taylors, S.C.) and David McDaniel (Watauga, Tenn.).
Michael Deren (Blasdell, N.Y.) is hoping to carry over the success he had in the 2006 cross country season over on the track, as he won his first-ever collegiate race at the Gardner-Webb Cross Country Duals in October. He also was the first collegian to cross the finish line a week later at the Blue Ridge Open, and led the Bucs across the finish line in all six events he competed in this season.
Junior Shane Estes (Maryville, Tenn.) is looking to keep his winning streak in tact when it comes to conference titles. Estes has won four consecutive conference crowns in the high jump, and will be seeking number five and six this season. He won the A-Sun Indoor Championship with a leap of 6-4.75 (1.95m) and took home gold in the Outdoor Championships with a personal-best mark of 6-6.75 (2.00m).
Michael Reber (Sunbright, Tenn.) is hoping to join Estes' success after having a late surge during his freshman season. Reber set season bests in the long jump, triple jump and high jump at the A-Sun Outdoor Championships, and is hoping his season-ending surge and preseason practice pays off in 2006-07.
With the return of Guy Hornsby (Morgantown, W.Va.) and a core group of throwers, the Bucs will be hoping to make some noise in the A-Sun this year. Hornsby is looking to build off a silver-medal finish in the 35-lb weight throw at the A-Sun Indoor Championships, along with the success he had in the outdoor events by placing first at the Milligan Open and posted a season-best hammer throw at the Western Carolina Invitational.
After getting a year of experience under their belts, sophomore's Justin White (Athens, Tenn.), Raymond Johnson (Georgetown, Tenn.) and Bradley Jones (Spruce Pine, N.C.) now know what to bring to the table for every meet. "Our throwers have shown much improvement during the off-season and it should make for a fun season," said coach Meg Stone.
Newcomers Dakota Cagle (Rutherford, N.C.) and Jarrod Burton (Bastian, Va.) have been firing on all cylinders since stepping foot on campus and should put some pressure on the upperclassmen. Both of these young throwers hold the record in the shot put for their respective states. Burton was the 2006 Virginia state champion in the shot put for both indoor and outdoor, while Cagle finished first in the shot put and discus at the Northwestern 4-A conference meet and the Western 4-A Regionals.