BOONE, N.C. (Dec. 5, 2008) - The ETSU track and field team opened its 2008-09 season in record fashion on Friday afternoon, as junior throwers Jarrod Burton (Bastian, Va.) and Zachlynn Blackburn (Tazewell, Va.) each shattered their own school marks in the weight throw at the Appalachian State Invitational. In total, six Buccaneer athletes won individual titles inside the Holmes Center and Varsity Gym.
With this opening meet being used as a season preview, the Buccaneers showcased their talents in many event areas. The ETSU men claimed titles in the 55-meter hurdles, mile run, 3,000-meters, long jump and weight throw; while Blackburn controlled the field in the weight throw.
Both Blackburn and Burton have already enjoyed a stellar career in their first two years at ETSU, but on Saturday, the dominate duo continued to add to their impressive resumes.
Burton - who has already received Atlantic Sun Most Outstanding Freshman Performer, all-conference and A-Sun Athlete of the Week awards - pummeled his previous school record in the weight throw by almost 10 feet. The Bastian, Va. native entered the meet with a personal-best of 50-10.25 (set in 2007), but Burton's heave of 60-03.75 (18.38m) placed him second overall in the field and marked a new personal record. Burton also had enough left in the tank to claim the shot put title, as he beat out a 34-man field with a toss of 51-01.75 (15.59m).
While Burton was making noise on the men's side, Blackburn was busy doing the same for the women. The junior thrower finished first in the weight, posting a record-setting mark of 55-01.50 (16.80m). Blackburn's previous best was set last season at the Virginia Tech Qualifier meet, when the weight flew 53-08.25 (16.36m). Like Burton, Blackburn also won Most Outstanding Freshman Performer honors at the conference meet and has also been an Athlete of the Week and all-conference selection.
Senior Josh Cloyd (Telford, Tenn.) didn't want to be left out of the fun in the field events, so he provided a strong showing in the long jump. Cloyd beat out Appalachian State's Ricky Harris for the individual title by six inches - posting a leap of 23-05.25 (7.14m).
On the track sophomore, Michael James (Palm Bay, Fla.) was having fun in the 55-meter hurdles. James - who was going head-to-head against 22 competitors - flew his way to the top of the leaderboard with a first-place time of 7.59.
The Buccaneer men's distance runners carried their momentum over from the cross country season. A month after winning its first Atlantic Sun crown, the ETSU runners proved the championship was no fluke as sophomore newcomer Ben Ronoh (Sotik, Kenya) and Kenneth Rotich (Nairobi, Kenya) each won their respective events.
Ronoh placed fourth in the 800m earlier in the day, but he and the ETSU runners made it a clean sweep in the mile run. Ronoh led the way with a time of 4:26.70, but teammates Manny Gonzalez (Maryville, Tenn.) and Jeff Crane (Taylors, S.C.) weren't too far behind. Gonzalez finished second with mark of 4:26.96, while Crane trotted his way to a third-place finish (4:33.44).
Rotich, the 2008 Atlantic Sun Runner of the Year in cross country, wanted to bring his success over into the indoor season. The Nairobi, Kenya native did just that, by winning the 3,000-meters (8:37.58). Like in the mile, ETSU made it a clean sweep, with Michael Deren (Blasdell, N.Y.) and J Penny (Jonesborough, Tenn.) coming in second and third (in that order).
Other ETSU notables include Duronal Monal's (Belle Glade, Fla.) fifth-place showing in the 55-meter dash (6.52) and freshman Quentin Greenlee's (Morristown, Tenn.) third-place finish in the 400-meters (48.85).
On the women's side Judy Johnson (Knoxville) and Nae-Nae Bailey (Statesville, N.C.) posted fourth and sixth-place performances in the 55-meters. Johnson crossed the line in 7.14 and Bailey was right behind in 7.24. Sophomore Jasmine Ingram (Frederick, Md.) was stellar in the 400-meters - ending in second - with a time of 56.70. Rounding out top performers list for ETSU was freshman Keisha Phillips' (Johnson City) effort in the triple jump. The local standout closed out the competition in fifth (36-09.75/11.22m).
The Buccaneers will now continue their training before starting up the heart of the indoor season in January.
For more information on Buccaneer track and field, visit www.ETSUBucs.com.