JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (February 17, 2007) - Standing in second 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 for the second straight year at the Atlantic Sun Indoor Championships, Saturday in Memorial Center. The Bucs tallied 127 points on the weekend, and bagged a total of 13 medals, including three individual first-place finishes. It marked the first time in school history the men's team won back-to-back indoor titles. The women's track and field team finished in second place with a total of 81 points, while Jacksonville topped the standings with 150 points. The women earned a total of eight medals, including one individual first-place finish.
With the win, ETSU claimed a pair of the A-Sun post-meet awards, with Mike Wright (Chattanooga, Tenn.) garnering a share of the "Most Outstanding Track Athlete" accolades, and head coach Dave Walker taking "Coach of the Year" honors for the second straight season.
Wright earned one gold and one silver medal, posting a win in the heptathlon, scoring a conference record 4,578 points, over 60 points ahead of the second-place finisher. He earned the silver medal in the high jump with a leap of 6-04.00 (1.93m).
Also competing in the heptathlon, Nicholas Chernikow (Seymour, Tenn.) finished third for the Bucs with a total of 4,096 points.
Johnny Tucker (Spartanburg, S.C.) also had a banner day, earning a silver medal in the 60-meter dash with a time of 6.92 and a bronze in the 200-meters with a time of 22.61.
In the field events, Nate Strickland (Morganton, N.C.) earned the bronze medal in the triple jump, with a leap of 44-01.25 (13.44m), while Jarrod Burton (Bastian, Va.) set a school record as well as an A-Sun record in the weight throw. His heave of 57-10.25 feet (17.63m) garnered him a gold medal and was over four feet better than the second place finisher.
Back on the track, freshman Chris Harrison (Woodbridge, Va.) landed another ETSU gold, setting a personal best as well as a conference mark as he took top honors in the 400-meter dash with a time of 50.28. Derek Carey (Nassau, Bahamas) also had a big day, taking the bronze medal in the 60-meter dash with a performance of 6.94.
In the distances, Michael Deren (Blasdell, N.Y.) put on a sensational finish to place third in the 5,000-meters in the time of 15:07.27.
Bucs Tyler Woodruff (Sevierville, Tenn.), Josh Rock (Spotsylvania, Va.), Josh Hicks (Riceville, Tenn.) and Chernikow closed out the night with yet another medal, placing third in the 4x400, with a time of 3:24.89.
Also scoring for the Bucs on Saturday was Carey in the 200-meter dash (5th, 7.07), Rock in the 400 (4th, 51.66), Jeff Crane (Taylors, S.C.) in the mile run (6th, 4:24.05), Hicks in the 800 (5th, 1:58.10), Wright in the 60-meter hurdles (5th, 8.50), and Michael Estes in the high jump (6th, 1.83m).
"My assistant coaches did a great job," said head coach Dave Walker. "Coach Meg Stone did a great job on the field events and Michelle (Byrne) worked her tail off getting everybody ready. The score tells a tale, Gardner-Webb went after us in a big way. The only we could sustain them was getting help from everywhere, field events, sprinters, distance and today happened to be our day."
On the women's side, sprinter Octavia Burgess (Morganton, N.C.) earned a bronze medal in the 60-meter dash with a time of 7.60, while Jenny Knox (Connelly Springs, N.C.) earned a bronze in the 200-meter dash with a time of 24.50. In the 800-meter run, Victoria Currie garnered a silver medal with a time of 2:20.25.
In the field events, Dedra Jones (North Tazewell, Va.) and Zachlynn Blackburn (Tazewell, Va.) earned silver and bronze medals, respectively in the weight throw. Jones' toss of 49-11.00 (15.21m) set a new school record and a second place finish, while Blackburn's heave of 46-10.75 (14.29m) was good for a third place finish.
Back on the track, the 4x400 relay team of Knox, Burgess, Christin Zink (Herdon, Va.), and Cagney Bailey (Statesville, N.C.) earned a silver medal, with a time of 3:52.63.
Also scoring points for ETSU were Knox in the 60-meter dash (4th, 7.63), Bailey in the 60-meter dash (6th, 7.73), Burgess in the 200-meter dash (6th, 25.39), and Valerie Boothby (Glen Gardner, N.J.) in the mile run (6th 5:20.17).
ETSU's next scheduled meet will at the USATF Indoor Nationals in Boston, Mass. The event is slated to take place February 23 and 24.