JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (February 16, 2006) - The ETSU track and field squads will get the winter championship season under way this weekend, hosting the Atlantic Sun Indoor Track and Field Championships, Friday and Saturday in Memorial Center. Both the men's and women's team have athletes ready to compete, and poised to reach the medal stand in the inaugural A-Sun competition. Action begins Friday morning, with the 60-meter hurdle heats of the women's pentathlon kicking off at 8:30 a.m. The men's heptathlon 60-meter dash is to follow at 8:45 a.m.
Men's Preview -
Senior James Rainer (Alcoa, Tenn.) will have a target on his back in the short sprints, boasting the fastest times in both the 60- and 200-meters. Rainer's 6.72 60 mark is the top seed by over two tenths of a second, while his 21.84 in the 200 is atop the A-Sun by well over half a second.
The Bucs will also look to claim a chunk of points in the 400-meters, with Tyler Woodruff (Sevierville, Tenn.), Josh Rock (Sportsylvania, Va.), and David McDaniel (Watauga, Tenn.) owning three of the league's top five times. Woodruff will be ETSU's highest seed in the event, coming in with a time of 51.62, the third-best time in the A-Sun.
Josh Hicks (Riceville, Tenn.) will aim to lead the Bucs in the middle distance events, entering the meet with the A-Sun's top ranked 800-meter time of 1:55.70. Rock could also do some damage in the half mile, sporting a 2:00.59, the league's fourth-rated mark. Hicks is also rated second in the mile run standings, after clocking 4:19.36 in late January. Jeff Crane (Taylors, S.C.) shouldn't be far behind, owning the league's third-fastest time at 4:21.48.
In position to score in the distances are Jordan Ladd (Ontario, Canada), Michael Deren (Blesdell, N.Y.), and Peter Dalton (Dublin, Ireland). Ladd holds the conference's fifth-fastest time in the 3,000-meters (8:47.27), while Deren is ranked second in the 5,000-meters, coming in with a time of 15:15.04. Dalton and Ladd also have a chance to score in the 5K, both owning top eight marks.
Shane Estes (Maryville, Tenn.) and Mike Wright (Chattanooga, Tenn.) are likely to handle the jumping events for the Bucs, as Estes holds the top mark in the high jump at 6-05.50 (1.97m), and Wright enters the meet as the conference's third-ranked long jumper with a mark of 22-3.75 (6.80m). Wright is also apt to be the Bucs' top entrant in the men's heptathlon. Daniel Williams (Knoxville, Tenn.) will eye a medal position in the pole vault, toting the league's third best jump at 14-7.25 (4.45m).
A trio of Bucs will vie for points in the throwing circle, with rookies Justin White (Athens, Tenn.) and Raymond Johnson (Georgetown, Tenn.), and sophomore Bradley Jones (Spruce Pine, N.C.) all among the top six entrants in the shot put.
Women's Preview -
Three Lady Bucs will aim for scoring spots in the short sprints, with Jenny Knox (Connelly Springs, N.C.), Nae Nae Bailey (Statesville, N.C.), and Ebonie Jones (Richmond, Va.) each toting a top-five time in the women's 60. Knox is currently ranked second with a time of 7.76. The junior also holds the fourth-fastest mark in the 200, at 25.20. Knox has already received A-Sun recognition this season, garnering A-Sun Athlete of the Week honors on Feb. 7.
Anna Marie Ricciardi (Canfield, Ohio) and Katelyn McCarty (Kingsport, Tenn.) look to pace the Bucs in the hurdles, carrying the third- and fourth-best times in the 60-meter hurdles. Riccardi's holds ETSU's best hurdle time of the season at 9.79.
Ricciardi will also look to claim her second-consecutive indoor conference high jump crown, entering the weekend as the conference leading, with a clearance of 5-8.75 (1.75m), less than two inches of the NCAA provisional mark.
Rebecca Cole (Knoxville, Tenn.) is also in position to claim a conference medal, as the freshman is tied for the league's top mark in the pole vault with a clearance of 10-6 (3.20m).
MacKenzie Labonte (Port Charlotte, Fla.) will vie for points in the distances, boasting the fifth-best time in the mile, with a 5:14.50. The Lady Bucs will also look to Heather Adkins (Kansas City, Mo.) and Christine Ward (Candler, N.C.) to race to scoring places in the endurance events.
Tashauna Robinson (Trelowny, Jamaica) will be the Bucs' scoring hope in both horizontal jumps, ranked in the top seven in both the long and triple jump. Robinson is currently the second seed in the triple jump, posting a leap 35-7.75 (10.85m) at the Niswonger Invitational.
Hannah Simpson (Bluff City, Tenn.), Antoinette Smith (Lynchburg, Va.) and Dedra McDaniel (North Tazwell, Va.) will be expected to scrap for points in the throws, with Simpson posting the highest rated mark with a heave of 42-3.25 (13.15m) in the 20-lb weight, the fourth-best throw in the A-Sun.