Rotich, Blackburn claim titles in Lynchburg
Saturday, January 30, 2010

LYNCHBURG, Va. (Jan. 30, 2010) - Senior Kenneth Rotich (Nairobi, Kenya) ran his way to the title in the 3000m, and fellow senior Zachlynn Blackburn (Tazewell, Va.) captured her second weight throw title this season, as the ETSU track and field team wrapped up competition Saturday afternoon at the Liberty Open inside the Tolsma Track Center.


With cold temperatures and snow flying outside the track center, Rotich was heating things up on the track as the Kenyan sensation dominated the 21-man field with a top time of 8:27.79. Rotich, who was racing in the 3000m for the first time all season, beat his nearest competitor by over 10 seconds.


Meanwhile, off the track, Blackburn continued her winning ways in the weight. Fresh off her record-breaking performance in the event last weekend at the Niswonger Invitational, Blackburn won the weight throw with a heave of 54-04.75 (16.88). Blackburn's mark was nine-feet better than James Madison's Jessica Wade who finished second (46-04.75).


In the heptathlon, senior Nic Chernikow (Seymour, Tenn.) moved from fifth to finish second with 4,692 points. Kyle Steiner won the event with 5,154 points. Fellow senior Jordan Briggs (Erwin, Tenn.) and freshmen Max Lee (Knoxville, Tenn.) and Les Gilbert (Franklin, Tenn.) finished fifth, sixth and eighth, respectively.


Chernikow, who won the 60m Friday night, raced his way to the title in the 60m hurdles to bag 832 points in the event. The Seymour, Tenn. native also recorded 576 points in the pole vault on Saturday after finishing third (12-07.50).


Briggs' 4,351 points in the heptathlon marked a lifetime best, and the senior standout collected 775 points in the pole vault. The Erwin, Tenn. native won the event with a mark of 14-11 (4.55m). Briggs also finished fourth in the hurdles - which was good for 713 points.


"I was pleased with the effort in the multis with it being their first heptathlon of the season," commented assistant coach Eli Sunquist. "Nic was the top collegiate finisher in the event, and although he had some rough events, he did quite well for his opening heptathlon. Jordan had a good weekend by winning the pole vault and setting a personal best score in the event. Max and Les also did a great job in their first collegiate meet. We have a lot to work on before the A-Sun Championships, but I am very pleased with how all four battled over the two-day competition. Overall, we won four of the seven events, which is a strong achievement."  


Back on the track, junior Manny Gonzalez (Maryville, Tenn.) set a season best time in the 800m. Gonzalez, who was the top collegiate runner in the event, clocked in at 1:58.67.


Rounding out the Bucs on Saturday were Matt Baum (Middletown, Md.) and Kelly Monteleone in the field events. Baum set a lifetime best by over a half-foot in the pole vault - finishing fourth with a mark of 14-03.25 (4.35m). Meanwhile, Monteleone posted a third-place leap in the long jump (18-00.25).


The Buccaneer track and field team returns to action next weekend when ETSU travels to Lexington for the Kentucky Invitational on Feb. 5-6.


For more information on Buccaneer track and field, visit