JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (April 17, 2011) - Despite taking five gold medals at Hodges Stadium this weekend, ETSU's men's track and field team could not catch up to new back-to-back champion Kennesaw State at the Atlantic Sun Outdoor Championships.
Putting his best foot forward to challenge the Owls, Ben Ronoh (Sotik, Kenya) improved on Friday's fourth in the 10,000-meter run, winning the steeplechase in 9:33.15, eight seconds ahead of the pack. He added a runner-up time of 14:58.47 in the 5,000 to grab gold, silver, 23 total points, and the Most Outstanding Track Performer Award for the weekend.
At the end of Day 2, after the Owls clinched the title with 237 points, the Bucs stayed true to character as the quartet of Tim O'Dell (Palm Coast, Fla.), Desmond Pierce (Morristown, Tenn.), Ifrish Alberg (Paramaribo, Suriname) and Robert Purcell (Raeford, N.C.) stood atop the podium after a first-place 4x400-meter relay of 3:15.07. It was the fifth and final title the Bucs tallied for the day, capping off 171 points and a second-place overall finish.
Alberg and O'Dell each owned individual gold in other events, as Alberg tied his earlier conference-best 10.42 to take the 100-meter dash and O'Dell branded his name on Hodges Stadium with a facility-record 47.71 in the 400-meter dash. Alberg also scored with a third in the 200 in 21.36, Pierce in the 800 with a fourth-place 1:55.07 time, and Purcell in the 400 with 48.65 landing him in sixth.
About the only hurdle Mike James (Palm Bay, Fla.) couldn't clear was Kennesaw State's Kendall Parks, as the senior took second in the 110-meter by only five-hundredths of a second. Purcell added a third-place effort in the 400 hurdles win 53.22, but yet again Kennesaw took the title as no one could touch Joshua James's 52.00 solid.
In the field events, Matt Baum (Middletown, Md.) took the javelin by 13 feet past Campbell's Dave Mathews, landing a top mark of 185-04 (56.49m).
Along with Baum, the trio of Justin Burton (Bastian, Va.), Cornell Sneed (Miami, Fla.) and Matt Allison (Fairfax, Va.) rounded up several field points. Burton, who scored in all three events, joined Baum in the top five of the javelin, earning four points on a throw of 166-09 (50.83m).
Burton and Sneed combined for 11 in the shot put on Friday, while Allison added a point of his own. Yesterday, all three scored in the discus as well, with Sneed leading the charge with a third-place 146-01 (44.53m), Allison taking sixth with 131-11 (40.21m) and Burton grabbing two points in seventh with 128-02 (39.06m).
Jason Johnson (Springfield, Pa.) earned ETSU's sole points in the men's triple jump, adding five to Michael Lockhart's (Dandridge, Tenn.) five in Friday's long jump. Johnson started out strong with a 46-06.00 (14.17m) jump, but it proved to be his only legal mark in six jumps.
On the women's side, however, horizontals improved yesterday, as Bethany Lender (Altoona, Pa.) and Lexie Burley (Johnson City, Tenn.) went two-three in the triple jump and Kelly Monteleone (Verona, Pa.) added a point in eighth. Lender's best mark was 39-08.00 (12.09m) while Burley took third by a quarter-inch, 39-01.25 (11.92m). Rounding out the points, Monteleone's final jump went the distance at 37-06.00 (11.43m).
Carrying over from a promising start on Friday, Leah Oakhill (Brisbane, Australia) finished third in the heptathlon totaling 4,290 points. Oakhill also scored in the individual high jump and javelin throw, tallying three total points with top-eight finishes in both events.
After a top qualifying time in the 100-meter dash, Emani Harrison (Columbia, S.C.) fell just short of Jacksonville's Louise Kiernan with a second-place time of 11.71 on Saturday, marking the top finish for ETSU in sprints. Jasmine Ingram (Frederick, Md.) went for fourth in the 400 at 54.57, while Emma and Hannah Bowers (Jonesborough, Tenn.) remained neck-and-neck for sixth and seventh, adding five more points to Ingram's original five.
Ashton Bishop (Gate City, Va.) also grabbed three points with a sixth-place finish in the 400-meter hurdles, going for 1:04.60, two seconds back of a collective Jacksonville trifecta at the top, a recurring theme as the Dolphins dominated for another year.
Jockeying for position with Kennesaw State and host North Florida, ETSU's women put a few more points on the board with a strong second in the 4x100-meter relay. Ingram, Harrison and the Bowers sisters came up less than a second shy of the stellar Jacksonville squad that won the indoor relay, taking second in 46.21. Unfortunately, a disqualification kept ETSU out of the points in the 4x400.
In the field events, Jasmine Foster (Johnson City, Tenn.) followed up Friday's score in the shot by hurling the discus a fifth-place 123-06 (37.65m), while Jordan Beard (Cleveland, Tenn.) added a point in eighth.
Altogether, ETSU finished fourth overall with 85 points, behind Kennesaw State, North Florida and, now, defending six-time champion Jacksonville, who won 11 total events and swept the top three twice.
With conference competition complete, ETSU looks to regroup and refocus on qualifying athletes for the NCAA Regionals May 27 in Bloomington, Ind., with three more events. This Saturday, they go to the Charlotte Invite. For more on ETSU Track & Field, visit ETSUBucs.com.