JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (Feb. 29, 2008) - With day one of the Atlantic Sun indoor track and field championships in the books, the ETSU men's team find themselves in a fight for its third consecutive conference crown following Friday's competition inside Memorial Center.
Gardner-Webb leads the overall field, but the Buccaneers and Kennesaw State only trail the Runnin' Bulldogs by two points entering the final day of competition. GWU finished day one with 36 points and ETSU and KSU are tied with 34.
Despite not receiving an individual title on Friday, ETSU men's team received a handful of solid performances, which in the end, kept the Buccaneers title hopes alive.
In the field events, sophomore Jarrod Burton (Bastian, Va.) pulled off a very gutsy and remarkable effort in the shot put. After having his appendix removed on Monday, Burton managed to place second in the event. He finished with a heave of 51-09 (15.77m).
"Jarrod showed a courageous effort out there today," mentioned ETSU throws coach Meg Stone. "He is a very remarkable person and to come away with a second-place finish after having surgery a few days ago speaks volumes about his character."
A trio of Buccaneer runners helped earn seven points in the 3,000-meter event. Sophomore Kenneth Rotich (Nairobi, Kenya), senior Jordan Ladd (Lyn, Ontario) and junior Jeff Crane (Taylors, S.C.) finished fourth, fifth and sixth respectively. Rotich, who entered with the league's fastest time, posted a mark of 8:40.52, while Ladd turned in a season best run of 8:43.19. Crane followed right behind and earned a point with his time of 8:53.50.
In the short sprints, Duronal Monal (Belle Glade, Fla.) and Zach Titman (Damascus, Va.) both qualified for Saturday's 60-meter dash final. Monal blasted his previous best in the event, posting the third-fastest mark of 7.04, while Titman also turned in a personal best at 7.11. Also putting together a qualifying time for tomorrow's 60-meter hurdles final was freshman Mike James (Palm Bay, Fla.). James finished fifth with a time of 8.36.
Junior Josh Cloyd (Telford, Tenn.) and Drew Beamer (Johnson City) were also turning in scoring performances. Beamer notched seven points with his second-place finish in the pole vault. The Johnson City native turned in a final mark of 14-07.25 (4.45m), which was a full inch better than his previous best in 2008. While Beamer was scoring in the pole vault, Cloyd was helping the Bucs in the long jump. Cloyd added four and a quarter inches to a his season high on Friday and finished third with his leap of 23-11 (7.29m).
The final group of ETSU athletes that turned in points was the DMR squad of Rotich, Crane, Josh Jaynes (Elizabethton, Tenn.) and Yordin Robinson (Kingston, Jamaica). The Buccaneers finished third in the event with a time of 10:27.31 and picked up six points.
"I am very proud of how our men came out and competed today," mentioned associate head coach Michelle Byrne. "We have a chance to pick up some big points tomorrow and hopefully steal some in other events. It's going to take a total effort from our team if we want to win our third consecutive title."
On the women's side, junior sprinters Judy Johnson (Knoxville) and Nae-Nae Bailey (Statesville, N.C.) turned in impressive showings during the 60-meter prelims. Both athletes qualified for Saturday's final as they posted season bests. Johnson came in first with a time of 7.58 and Bailey was fourth at 7.70.
Sophomore Zachlynn Blackburn (Tazewell, Va.) earned four of the Lady Bucs' six points on the day. Blackburn finished fourth in the shot put with a toss of 39-01 (11.91m). Freshman Ashton Bishop (Gate City, Va.) tallied the other two points as she finished fifth in the pentathlon with 3,176 points.
Two-time defending champion, Jacksonville, leads the field with 52 points after the first day. UNF (36 points) and Gardner-Webb (31 points) are both battling to stay within reach of the Dolphins.
The final day of competition begins at 8:30 a.m. tomorrow when the men's heptathlon kicks things off inside Memorial Center.
For more information on Buccaneer track and field, visit www.ETSUBucs.com.