BOONE, N.C. (Dec. 4, 2008) - After months of training and conditioning the ETSU track and field team will make its 2008-09 debut Friday afternoon, when the Buccaneers head over to Boone, N.C. for the Appalachian State Invitational. The meet begins at 11 a.m. and is held inside the Holmes Center and Varsity Gym.
The Buccaneers face a lot of quality teams from across the Southeast region on Friday as Charlotte, Davidson, Gardner-Webb, High Point, Lees-McRae, South Carolina State, USC Upstate, and Western Carolina will join host Appalachian State at this season-opening meet.
Both the ETSU men's and women's programs return a lot of talent from last year and hope to challenge for conference crowns this indoor and outdoor season.
Below is a breakdown of the ETSU track and field teams:
On the men's side junior Duronal Monal (Belle Glade, Fla.) and sophomores Michael James (Palm Bay, Fla.) and Yordin Robinson (Kingston, Jamaica) will lead the Bucs in the sprint events. Monal closed out a solid rookie season a year ago by claiming gold in the 100-meters at the 2008 Atlantic Sun Outdoor Championships. Monal also gave ETSU a lift at the Indoor Championships by scoring in both the 60 and 200-meter events.
The 60-meter hurdles is James' specialty, and he hopes to position himself into an all-conference hurdler this indoor season. Last season, James finished fifth at the conference meet, but after rigorous preseason training, the sophomore star looks to make noise in his second season.
Robinson will guide the Bucs in the long sprints, as he showcases his talents in the 200 and 400m.
The additions of Jeremiah Kilgore (Adren, N.C.) and Quentin Greenlee (Morristown, Tenn.) give the Buccaneers some extra depth in the sprints. Kilgore red-shirted for ETSU a year ago, but had a lot of success at J.C. Roberson High School in Asheville, N.C. The Adren, N.C. native was an all-state runner and ran a leg in the 2005 4x400-meter relay state championship team. Meanwhile, Greenlee was also busy making noise at Morristown West. During his high school career, Greenlee was a state champion in the 200-meters, and set the school record in the 100, 200 and distance medley relay events.
The 2008 Atlantic Sun Champion men's cross country team looks to carry its success over to the track. In November, head coach David E. Walker's club made history as they won their 21st conference championship and first in the A-Sun.
Junior and Atlantic Sun cross country Runner of the Year, Kenneth Rotich (Nairobi, Kenya), highlights the Buccaneers in the 3,000 and 5,000-meter run events, as he is the reigning conference champion in the 5,000 and placed fourth in the 3,000-meters at the conference championships. In addition, Rotich won both distance events at the Atlantic Sun Outdoor Conference Championships.
Joining Rotich in the long distance events are seniors Jeff Crane (Taylors, S.C.) and Michael Deren (Blasdell, N.Y.).
Crane - who battled a knee injury during most the cross country campaign - flourished late and was named an all-conference runner after the championship race. Last season at the indoor championships, the Taylors, S.C. native finished third in the 5,000-meters and sixth in the 3,000-meters, however, Crane has a history of success at the Atlantic Sun Indoor meet as he claimed the 3,000-meter title and finished second in the 5,000-meters in 2006.
Deren is also coming off a spectacular cross country season after receiving all-region and all-conference accolades. Deren missed the 2008 indoor season, but has a history of scoring in the long distance events at the conference level - placing third in the 5,000-meters in 2007 and fifth in 2006.
Newcomer Ben Ronoh (Sotik, Kenya) and sophomore Manny Gonzalez (Maryville, Tenn.) represent the Buccaneers in the middle distance groups - both the mile and 800-meters. Ronoh, the cousin of Kenneth Rotich, was ETSU's number two runner this cross country season, while Gonzalez looks to improve on last season's rookie season.
Rounding out the Buccaneer attack is junior J Penny (Jonesborough, Tenn.). Penny is coming off his best cross country season since arriving in Johnson City, and after missing the indoor season a year ago, the Jonesborough, Tenn. native looks to have a break-out season in 2008-09.
With new jumps coach Eli Sunquist taking over the reigns this season, ETSU looks to reach new levels in this event area in 2008-09. The Bucs' strongest competitor in the long and triple jump is senior Josh Cloyd (Telford, Tenn.). Cloyd finished third in both of these events last season in Johnson City and second at the outdoor conference championships.
Cloyd will be joined by juniors Jordan Briggs (Erwin, Tenn.) and Nic Chernikow (Maryville, Tenn.). With Briggs primarily focusing his attention in the pole vault, both he and Chernikow will be tested in the heptathlon. These fierce student-athletes give the Bucs a boost as they can compete in many event areas - including the pole vault, long and triple jump, and high jump. A year ago Chernikow placed fourth in the heptathlon, and his freshman season, the Seymour, Tenn. native took home gold in the decathlon.
Joining Briggs is all-conference vaulter and senior Drew Beamer (Johnson City). Beamer, who already owns the school record (15-01), finished second in the event during the 2008 indoor season (14-07.25/4.45m).
Sophomore Andrew Houston (Crossville, Tenn.) will lead the Bucs in the high jump. Houston finished third in the event at both the 2008 indoor and outdoor championships. The high jumper posted a leap of 6-04.25 (1.94m) in Johnson City, and a mark of 6-06.75 (2.00m) in Clemson.
For the third straight season coach Meg Stone's throws group will be led by Jarrod Burton (Bastian, Va.). Burton holds both school records in the shot put and weight and has been a force to be reckoned with amongst A-Sun competition. In his freshman season, Burton won gold in the weight and third in the shot put, while placing second in both events right after having his appendix removed prior to the meet.
Burton will be joined by freshman newcomer Cornell Sneed (Miami, Fla.).
ETSU women's breakdown
The Lady Buccaneer sprint group is one area ETSU doesn't lack depth in.
ETSU is led by Nae-Nae Bailey (Statesville, N.C.), Judy Johnson (Knoxville), Octavia Burgess (Morganton, N.C.) and Jasmine Ingram (Frederick, Md.).
Bailey and Johnson (both seniors) will pack the one-two punch for the Lady Bucs' short sprints.
Johnson - the ETSU record holder in the 200m (24.30) - finished second in the event in 2008, and won gold in the 60m with a time of 7.65. Meanwhile, Bailey finished third (200m) and fourth (60m), respectively. This senior duo was also apart of the 4x100-meter relay team that made the 2008 Mid East Regional in the outdoor season.
The trio of Terra and Tesha Haggard (Morristown, Tenn.) and Melissa Murrell (Knoxville) guides the Lady Bucs distance group. Both Haggard twins are coming off a strong cross country campaign, as Tesha fell just short of an all-conference selection, and Terra turned in a personal-best down in Macon.
Terra and Tesha will be used in both the 3,000 and 5,000-meter races, while Murrell's specialty is in the middle distances - the 800m and mile run.
Joining the trio is another cross country runner in Rochelle Crook (Cookeville, Tenn.). Crook will be featured in the the mile, 800m, 3,000m and 5,000m events.
Sophomores Ashton Bishop (Gate City, Va.) and freshman Keshia Phillips (Johnson City) will be used in the long and triple jump, while Bishop can also expect to see action in the high jump and pentathlon. Bishop spent most of her rookie season competing in the high jump and pentathlon, and put together a scoring effort in the indoor conference championships. The Gate City, Va. native ended fifth in the two-day event - compiling 3,176 points.
Phillips was a four-year letterwinner for Science Hill and also received all-conference honors in 2006 and 2007, as well as being named Most Valuable Jumper from 2005-07.
Joining Bishop in the high jump is fellow sophomore Haley Pope (Easton, Md.). Pope finished seventh (outdoor) and eighth (indoor) at both the conference meets during her freshman season.
Like the men, the ETSU women throwers are guided by an experienced standout.
Zachlynn Blackburn (Tazewell, Va.) owns the school record in the weight and has had a plethora of success at the A-Sun Championships. The Tazewell, Va. native is the reigning conference champion in the weight and finished fourth in the shot put. In her first two seasons as a Lady Buccaneer thrower, Blackburn has provided scoring efforts in both the weight and shot put at the conference meet.
Blackburn will have some help in 2008-09 with freshman Lili Barboza (Oxford, Ala.) joining the talented thrower. Barboza was a multi-sport athlete at Oxford High School where she starred in track and field and softball. In 2008, Barboza broke the school record in discus, shot put and javelin and was also named Team MVP in 2006.
Friday's meet will kick off with women's high jump and men's and women's 55-meter hurdles at 11 a.m.
For a full recap and results of Friday's meet, visit www.ETSUBucs.com.