JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (Jan. 23, 2010) - A pair of junior sprinters highlighted the Buccaneers on Saturday, as the second and final day of the 32nd Niswonger Invitational came to close inside the ETSU/MSHA Athletic Center.
Jasmine Ingram (Frederick, Md.) and Michael James (Palm Bay, Fla.) showcased dominating performances in their respective event areas on the track. Ingram, who all ready set a new school record in the 400m last weekend at Virginia Tech, shaved some additional time off that mark in the finals on Saturday. The Frederick, Md. native flew her way to gold with a top time of 55.86.
"This was definitely a strong second day, because of some miscues we made yesterday," said associate head coach Michelle Byrne. "I was really excited for Jasmine, because she has worked really hard and has finally figured out how to compete in the 400 at the Division I level. In each race this season, she has put up a personal best, and I think she will get under 55 before the season is over - I can't say enough about her. Jasmine and Zachlynn (Blackburn) were definitely the highlight on the women's side this weekend."
While Ingram was busy taking home top honors in the 400, James was doing the same in the 60m hurdles. James, who qualified for the finals on Friday with a time of 8.21, clocked in a time of eight seconds flat to capture his third title in the hurdles this season.
"Mike didn't have a good race in the prelims yesterday, so we made some technical adjustments prior to the final," added Byrne. "I think he would have liked to run faster today, but he is almost there. If Mike can stay up in hurdles four and five, he can be really fast. He wasn't seeded in the top two coming in and ended up with the win, so that's a huge accomplishment."
Elsewhere on the track, senior Duronal Monal (Belle Glade, Fla.) turned in a personal best effort in the 200m. Monal finished second behind Manteo Mitchell with a time of 21.49.
"I was very pleased with Duronal's effort today," said Byrne. "His performance today was a lifetime best and a big PR. I know he is disappointed because he felt he had the race within his grasp. Technically he is working on it as well, so I just need for him to be confident and to run his race. If he does that, good things will happen."
Earlier in the morning, senior Kenneth Rotich (Nairobi, Kenya) and USC Upstate's Gilbert Kembio met up in the men's 5000m. Back in October, Rotich blew by Kembio to win his second straight individual Atlantic Sun Cross Country Championship, but on Saturday the Spartan runner got some revenge. Kembio won the title by finishing in 14:35.19, while Rotich - who was making his season debut in the event - placed second in 14:39.04. Following Rotich's performance in the distance event, fellow Buccaneer runner Manny Gonzalez (Maryville, Tenn.) put together a second-place finish of his own in the mile. Gonzalez cut six seconds off his previous best this season by clocking in at 4:26.21.
In the field events, freshman Ryan Beaver (Virginia Beach, Va.) came away with a sixth-place showing in the long jump. Beaver, who advanced to the finals, finished with a leap of 23-04.75 (7.13m). On the women's side newcomer Kelly Monteleone turned in a season best mark in the long jump. Prior to this meet, Monteleone's previous best was 5.01m, but on Saturday the long jumper posted a leap 17-06.25 (5.34m).
Rounding things out in the final event of the evening was the men's 4x400m relay. The foursome of Quentin Greenlee (Morristown, Tenn.), Robert Purcell (Raeford, N.C.), James and Monal put together a strong sixth-place finishing against a loaded field. The Bucs tallied a time of 3:19.12 in the event.
"To say that I'm really pleased with the 4x400 team is an understatement," said Byrne. "These four athletes really competed today - and I think right off the bat - (Robert) Purcell and (Quentin) Greenlee stepped up. Both of them ran relay PRs and running 3:19 is a good improvement for us. With the runners we have, they are capable in putting together a run of 3:15.
"Overall, anytime you can come away with two wins (and a second) on the last day of an invitational event, you are having a good day," Byrne said. "We competed hard and now we can't just be complacent. We have to take good care of ourselves and get ready for the next time we step on the track as we keep preparing for the conference championships."
The ETSU track and field team returns to action next weekend when the Bucs compete in the Liberty Open on Friday and Saturday.
For more information on track and field, visit www.ETSUBucs.com.