30th annual Niswonger Invitational set to take place this weekend inside Memorial Center
Thursday, January 17, 2008

JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (Jan. 17, 2008) - The East Tennessee State University track & field team has begun its final preparations for the Niswonger Foundation Track and Field Invitational/KTC High School Indoor Track Classic, that will be held inside Memorial Center this weekend on the David E. Walker Track.  This year's meet is the sixth year that the Niswonger Foundation will be sponsoring the event and the 30th meet overall.


The meet will showcase some of the world's top collegiate, post collegiate, and professional athletes. Over 1,100 athletes from 85 teams will compete in the two-day event.  Athletes from Virginia Tech, Tennessee, and Georgia will be in action, as well as some professional athletes from Team Velocity and Vertical Technique and many other club teams. Other notable universities making the trip to Johnson City include: Chattanooga, Furman and Western Carolina from the SoCon, UAB from Conference USA, and the Buccaneers can see where they match-up in the A-Sun as Kennesaw State, Lipscomb and Gardner-Webb will be competing in the meet this weekend. Please click the entries tab above for complete listing of all the athletes and schools participating.


Some notable ETSU athletes to watch out for this weekend include:


Jarrod Burton (Bastian, Va.) - Burton holds the school record in the weight throw with his conference breaking mark of 57-10.25 (17.63m) set a year ago at the A-Sun Championships.


Drew Beamer (Johnson City, Tenn.) - This product of Science Hill High School set the new ETSU pole vault record last year at the indoor conference championships. Beamer's mark stands at 15-01 (4.60m).


Zachlynn Blackburn (Tazewell, Va.) - Blackburn holds the indoor ETSU mark of 51-08.50 (15.76m) in the weight. The Tazewell, Va. native set the new record last month at the Appalachian State Invitational. Blackburn will also be competing in the shot put this weekend.


Nae-Nae Bailey (Statesville, N.C.) - The junior sprinter set the new Buccaneer outdoor record in the 200-meter dash last season at Vanderbilt (24.10). This weekend Bailey will showcase her speed in the 60- and 200-meter events. Joining Bailey in those events will be newcomer Judy Johnson (Knoxville).


Ashton Bishop (Gate City, Va.) - This local freshman star will be competing in the 60-meter hurdles, high jump and 200-meters.


Mike James (Palm Bay, Fla.) - James, an ETSU freshman speedster, will participate in the 60-meter hurdles and 200-meter event. Joining James in the 200 will be newcomers Josh Cloyd (Telford, Tenn.) and Zack Titman (Damascus, Va.).


"We are expecting one of the biggest meets in recent years," added head ETSU track coach Dave Walker. "It is going to be a fun weekend having both the collegiate event and the high school meet going on at the same time. I am also glad we were able to have the elementary students come back for a second year to compete in the relays."


In addition, the KTC High School Indoor Track Classic will be taking place at the same time as the collegiate Niswonger meet. For the second straight year, the Elementary School Shuttle Relays will be run on Friday evening at 7 p.m.


Close to 1,000 athletes from high school clubs are expected to make the trip to Memorial Center this weekend. Teams from Tennessee, South Carolina, North Carolina, Georgia, Virginia, New York, Illinois, Mississippi, Florida, Alabama and Kentucky are expected to visit Johnson City.


Below is a break down of some of the top high school athletes competing this weekend:


Jacquelyn Coward, one of the top high school hurdlers in the country, will be running for Track Knoxville this weekend. Coward is the national high school record holder in the indoor 60-meter hurdles and was a bronze medalist at the 2007 Pan Am Juniors.


Lauren Chambers (Shot Put) holds a personal best of 47-06.50 and is the U.S. high school national record holder as a freshman in the weight. She is currently ranked 2nd in the U.S. among high school athletes in the weight.


LaKeshia C. Williams, competing for Club Elite of Birmingham, will participate in the 60- and 200-meter dash. She is an eight-time Alabama State Champion in the 100, 200, and 400-meters.


Joining Williams in the sprints will be Nyosha Bryant as she is currently tied for nation's top runner in the 55 meter dash, with a time of 7.00.  


Madeline Morganis, the winner of NIKE TEAM NATIONAL Cross Country Championship in Portland, Oregon this year, entered in the 3000-meter invitational race. Madeline's teammate Brigid Carey is also running in the 3000. 


The top athlete on the men's side to watch is William Wynne. Wynne won two gold medals at the World Youth Games last year and was the National Junior Champion in the both the 110- and 400-meter hurdles a year ago. He has posted personal bests of 13.39 (110-meter hurdles) and 49.01 (400-meter hurdles).


Also on the men's side, Brandon Easler will be competing in the mile run. Easler won the 2007 Footlocker South Regional in 2007 with a time of 15:56 and is the individual South Carolina state runner-up in cross country. Marcus Rowland, Easler's high school teammate, will be running in the 60 and 200-meter events. Rowland was the 100 and 200m state champion a year ago.


Spencer Ferguson, a 2007 Nike All-American both Indoor and Outdoor, in the 4x800-meter relay will showcase his talents this weekend. Ferguson is a six-time all-state selection and four-time state champion in Alabama. He won the 800-meter event at the LSU meet last weekend and is a Wendy's Heisman award winner.


Rounding things out on the men's side is Tyler Stepp. Stepp is the number one high jumper in the state of Tennessee and is a Junior Olympic champion in the event as well.


"This is going to be a great high school meet and there are a lot of top of the line athletes competing in Johnson City this weekend," mentioned Marty Sonnefeldt, the Knoxville Track Club Youth Athletics Director. "This is a phenomenal assemblage of athletes, and one of the main reasons for the high caliber turnout has to deal with the fast track they will be competing on."


For a complete listing of events and times, please visit http://www.cfpitiming.com/ or click on the link above. Make sure to visit www.ETSUBucs.com for a full recap of what took place at the conclusion of Friday and Saturday.


The meet begins at 10 a.m. Friday morning, and runs until seven o'clock Saturday evening.


Media Requests


All media requests and inquiries including credentials and interviews should be directed to the media relations contact for track and field Kevin Brown (423) 439-5263 or via e-mail etsusportsinfo@etsu.edu. Requests should be made as early as possible.