Rotich, Blackburn highlight ETSU track and field on day one of A-Sun Championships
Friday, May 16, 2008

CLEMSON, S.C. (May 16, 2008) - A pair of sophomore ETSU track and field athletes highlighted day one of the 2008 Atlantic Sun Conference Championships Friday evening from Clemson's Rock Norman Track and Field Complex, hosted by USC Upstate. Kenneth Rotich (Nairobi, Kenya) and Zachlynn Blackburn (Tazewell, Va.) each won gold in their respective events.


After a handful of events have been contested, Belmont leads the way on the men's side with 45 points. Gardner-Webb follows directly behind the Bruins with 37 points and the Buccaneers (26.50 points) ended the day in third.


On the women's side, Gardner-Webb will take the lead into Saturday's final day of competition after the Runnin' Bulldogs earned 45 points. UNF is currently in second with 30.33 points and Belmont finished the day in third at 23 points. The Lady Bucs earned 10 points and are sitting in sixth.


The main reason ETSU is on the board is based on Blackburn's first-place finish in the hammer. Blackburn won the title for the second straight year, earning all 10 of the Bucs' points with a new school-record heave of 159-05 (48.60m). The Tazewell, Va. native blew away the field as her toss was over four-feet further than UNF's Elizabeth Maxwell's heave of 155-00 (47.25m).


"Zachlynn has stepped up for us all season and I am very proud of her performance today," added ETSU throws coach Meg Stone. "Hopefully she can carry some of this momentum into the final day tomorrow and end up on the stand in both the discus and shot put."


To the Lady Bucs' credit, the rest of their scoring opportunities will come on Saturday, as the trio of Jenny Knox (Connelly Springs, N.C.), Judy Johnson (Knoxville) and Nae-Nae Bailey (Statesville, N.C.) compete in the short sprints and relay events; while Blackburn will go in the discus and shot put.


Once again Rotich had a huge day on the men's side as he upset the Belmont contingent in the 10,000m run. The Bruins had three runners hold the top marks in the league heading into the championships, but Rotich exploded in his season debut of the event, posting a time of 31:03.19. Belmont's Josh Brigham placed second as he ended in 31:17.18.


"Kenneth ran very well for us today and I am delighted of his first-place finish," said head ETSU track and field coach Dave Walker. "He beat out a great field of runners tonight and I hope he has enough in the tank for tomorrow's final day."


Joining Rotich in the scoring efforts on Friday was junior Josh Cloyd's (Telford, Tenn.) effort in the long jump. Cloyd finished second in the event with a mark of 23-09.50 (7.25m) - which was behind Campbell's Sam Tilly's leap of 25-10.25 (7.88m).


In the pole vault, senior Dave Thomas (Maryville, Tenn.) and junior Drew Beamer (Johnson City) tied for third in the event; finishing with marks of 14-03.25 (4.35m). Sophomore Jordan Briggs (Erwin, Tenn.) also notched a scoring effort by tying for sixth. 


The Bucs will have a chance to bag more points on Saturday after Duronal Monal (Belle Glade, Fla.) and Zach Titman (Damascus, Va.) each earned a spot in tomorrow's 100m final. Monal won the prelims with a wind aided time of 10.49 and Titman posted a 10.94 performance.


The men's 110-meter hurdles trials and women's 100m and 100-meter hurdles all advanced to Saturday's finals.


"Overall I am happy with our effort today," mentioned associate head track and field coach Michelle Byrne. "We advanced our athletes into tomorrow's finals and we turned in some exceptional performances tonight."


The conference championships resume to action with the men's decathlon kicking things off Saturday morning at 9 a.m.


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