Blackburn closes out exceptional Lady Buccaneer career this weekend in Jacksonville
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (May 13, 2010) - A year ago the Buccaneer men's track and field team made history by capping off the "Trifecta" in the River City. This weekend ETSU hopes to put a stop to Kennesaw State's bid for a Triple Crown and hoist the Atlantic Sun Outdoor Track and Field Championship trophy for a second straight season.
The two-day conference meet kicks off Friday morning at 9 a.m. from North Florida's Hodges Stadium with the men's decathlon and women's heptathlon.
The Bucs, who have won two outdoor men's titles since joining the A-Sun in 2006, look to win back-to-back outdoor crowns for the first time in program history. However, the task won't be easy, as Kennesaw State edged out ETSU by four points to take the indoor title after the Owls defeated the Bucs in the 4x400-meter relay by two-hundredths of a second. In the fall, ETSU also finished second behind KSU in the A-Sun Cross Country Championship.
ETSU is led by a strong core of seniors as Duronal Monal (Belle Glade, Fla.), Kenneth Rotich (Nairobi, Kenya), Nic Chernikow (Seymour, Tenn.) and Jarrod Burton (Bastian, Va.) all look to defend their individual titles this weekend.
Monal, the two-time defending champion in the 100m and reigning 200m winner, looks to become the first athlete in conference history to win three 100m titles, while joining former ETSU great James Rainer as the only sprinters to win multiple 200m crowns.
Meanwhile, Rotich looks to join conference elite status as he hopes to be the first runner to win three 10000m titles in A-Sun history and also join Belmont's Jacob Buckman and Michael Green as the only athletes to win three titles in the 5000m.
Like his teammates Monal and Rotich, Chernikow is eyeing his second straight title in the decathlon and third in the last four years. The Seymour, Tenn. native currently holds the A-Sun record with his 6197 points set in 2009, and Chernikow is now gunning for the ETSU record this weekend in the River City. Chernikow's 6197 points are only 37 points shy of breaking Andrew Whitson's record of 6233, set in 2001.
Rounding out the action for the Bucs is (Jarrod) Burton's title defense in the hammer. Last year Burton won the event with a heave of 47.97m, and another championship crown this weekend will make him only the third thrower in A-Sun history to win at least two titles in the event.
In addition to the strong senior leadership, the Bucs currently hold the top marks in the steeplechase, javelin, and triple jump, while junior hurdler Mike James (Palm Bay, Fla.) is also a threat to win the crown in the 110m hurdles.
Junior Ben Ronoh (Sotik, Kenya) was named Most Outstanding Track Performer at last year's conference championship after winning the steeplechase and finishing second in both the 5000m and 10000m events. Ronoh carries the top time into the steeplechase after clocking in at 9:35.92 back on April 17 in Charlotte.
In the field events, fellow junior Matt Baum (Middletown, Md.) sits atop the conference charts in the javelin after setting a school record with a toss of 190-10 (58.17m), while freshman Ryan Beaver (Virginia Beach, Va.) leads the way in the triple jump (47-02.50).
On the women's side, senior Zachlynn Blackburn (Tazewell, Va.) looks to close out her four-year career on a positive note. The Tazewell, Va. native is the current ETSU record holder in the hammer, while being a two-time conference champion (2007-08) in the event and a conference champion in the discus (2007). Should the senior thrower win gold in the hammer, Blackburn would become the first athlete in the event to win three titles in A-Sun history. Blackburn enters the meet second in the hammer and fourth in the discus.
Fellow Lady Buccaneer thrower Jasmine Foster (Johnson City, Tenn.) looks to provide scoring chances in both the shot put and discus as she ranks fifth in both events, respectively.
On the track, junior Jasmine Ingram (Frederick, Md.) has her best chance of winning an A-Sun title in the 400m as she carries the third fastest time into the event. Ingram, a three-time Athlete of the Week recipient during the indoor campaign, has been sidelined for most of the outdoor season.
A pair of Lady Buccaneer athletes are coming off season best efforts this past weekend at the UT Invitational and they look to carry momentum into the conference meet. Junior Ashton Bishop (Gate City, Va.) recorded a time of 1:05.39 in the 400m hurdles to move into fourth on the A-Sun performance charts, and freshman Kelly Monteleone (Verona, Pa.) was named Athlete of the Week after jumping 17-08 in the long jump Saturday at Knoxville. Monteleone also sits fifth in the triple jump with a mark of 38-03.25 (11.66m), which was set in the season-opener at Coastal Carolina.
For additional information regarding the conference championships, visit www.AtlanticSun.org.
For updated coverage and results of Buccaneer track and field at the conference championships, visit www.ETSUBucs.com.