JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (February 18, 2006) - Standing in third place after the first day of competition, the ETSU men's track and field team engineered a day-two comeback to claim the team title at the inaugural Atlantic Sun Indoor Championships, Saturday in Memorial Center. The Bucs tallied153 points on the weekend, and bagged a total of 14 medals, including six individual first-place finishes, and a relay victory.
With the win, ETSU claimed a pair of the A-Sun post-meet awards, with James Rainer (Alcoa, Tenn.) garnering "Most Outstanding Track Athlete" accolades, and head coach Dave Walker taking "Coach of the Year" honors.
Rainer earned a set of gold medals, posting wins in 60- and 200-meter dashes. The senior cruised to victory in both events, clocking times of 6.75 in the 60, and 21.61 in the 200. Rainer quieted the competition, winning the 60 by nearly two-tenths of a second, and the 200 by well over a quarter of a tick.
Since the meet was the first indoor championships in conference history, all winning marks will set the standard for the future, becoming A-Sun championship records.
"I'm just really happy for the kids," said Walker following the meet. "They worked hard for two days, and they deserved to win. But a champion never stands still, they always move forward. So maybe we can continue to improve and work towards winning the outdoor title."
Mike Wright (Chattanooga, Tenn.) also had a banner day, posting a total of 32 points, the most of any athlete on the men's side. The sophomore began the day with a gold-medal performance in the heptathlon, scoring 4,455 points, over 250 points ahead of the second-place finisher.
Wright then went on to finish second in the 60-meter hurdles (8.48), and second in the high jump (6-4), to go along with his bronze medal from last evening's long jump competition.
The high jump competition was an all-ETSU affair, with Wright and teammate Shane Estes (Maryville, Tenn.) going to a jump off for first-place honors. Estes, also a sophomore, was the eventual champion, clearing 6-4.75 (1.95m) for his second-straight indoor conference crown. The Bucs scored four of the event's top five finishes with Michael Reber (Subright, Tenn.), and Johnny Tucker (Spartanburg, S.C.) taking fourth and fifth place, respectively, both soaring over 5-10 (1.78m).
Also medaling in the field was freshman Guy Hornsby (Morgantown, W.Va.), who came through for the Bucs in the throws, notching a second-place finish in the 35-lb weight with a mark of 47-5 (14.45m).
Back on the track, Josh Hicks (Riceville, Tenn.) landed another ETSU gold, taking top honors in the 800-meters with a time of 1:57.11. Josh Rock (Sportsylvania, Va.) also had a big day, taking the silver medal in the 400-meters with a performance of 51.74, just six one-thousands off winner Stephen Register from Belmont.
In the distances, rookie Jeff Crane (Taylors, S.C.) put on a sensational finishing kick to place second in the 5,000-meters in the time of 15:18.68. The silver medal was the freshman's third piece of hardware of the meet, after winning the 3,000-meters, and helping the Bucs to victory in the distance medley relay Friday night. The Bucs were tough all the way through the 5,000, with Michael Deren (Blasdell, N.Y.) and Jordan Ladd (Ontario, Canada) scoring fifth and sixth place finishes.
Bucs Tyler Woodruff (Sevierville, Tenn.), Rock, David McDaniel (Watauga, Tenn.), and Hicks closed out the night with yet another medal, placing second in the 4x400, with a time of 3:24.52.
Also scoring for the Bucs on Saturday were Tucker in the 60 (4th, 7.07), McDaniel in the 400 (4th, 52.82), Reber in the triple jump (5th, 40-7.5), and Daniel Williams (Knoxville, Tenn.), also in the triple jump (6th, 36-9.75).
ETSU's next scheduled meet will be a last chance competition at Virginia Tech. The event is slated for March 4, in Blacksburg, Va.