JOHNSON CITY, TENN. (May 10, 2017) – The entire outdoor season has been leading up to this weekend as the East Tennessee State Track and Field program sets its sights on Birmingham, Ala. for the 2017 Southern Conference Outdoor Track & Field Championships.
The conference meet is hosted by Samford University at the Samford Track and Soccer Stadium. It’s the third time overall and second time in three years the SoCon championships have been held in Birmingham, Ala. The 2017 championship will be the 93rd edition of the men’s tournament and the 31st of the women’s.
"We have a great challenge ahead of us on Thursday and Friday at the SoCon Track & Field Championships. It looks like we might have to dodge some tough weather conditions on Friday that could make for a long day," said director of track & field/cross country George Watts. "It's a grueling two days of nonstop action and the conditions are always a factor. I believe our athletes will keep their mind on the task and not let adverse conditions hamper their performances. "
Last season the ETSU women’s team finished third with a point total of 91.5 while the men finished fourth with 98 points. Overall the Buccaneers claimed four SoCon champions with two on the women’s side and two on the men’s side.
Sophomore Kyra Atkins (Greer, S.C.) looks to defend her SoCon titles in the 100m hurdles and long jump. This outdoor season Atkins has the fastest time in conference in the 100mH at 13.37 and has the third longest jump in the SoCon at 19’ 5.25”.
Katrina Seymour (New Providence, Bahamas) looks to continue her impressive senior campaign as she has the top mark in the conference in the 100m (11.87), 400m (54.71) and 400mH (57.96). Seymour’s time in the 400mH is a school record.
On the men’s side the blue and gold are the defending SoCon champions in the 400mH and 3000m steeplechase. Junior Simeon Roberts (Greeneville, Tenn.) will look to claim his second straight 3000m steeplechase SoCon championship as his time of 9:00.06 currently ranks second in the SoCon.
In the field, senior Brett Squibbs (Rock Hill, S.C.) seeks his second conference pole vault title after claiming the conference crown back in 2014 at the Atlantic Sun Outdoor Championships. Squibbs has finished second in the SoCon Outdoor Championships each of the past two seasons.
"We've had a very solid season and our expectations remain high for the meet. We have quite a few individuals ranked in the top three and have conference leaders in five women's events," said Watts. "I feel we are a top three team with both genders and we will need our very best effort to finish in one of those spots. Our competitive effort with each rep will determine how successful we will be at the end of the day on Friday".
The men’s program will look for their first conference title since 2012 when they were a part of the A-Sun while the women’s team seeks their first conference championship since 1996.
Upon the conclusion of the SoCon Championships, multiple Buccaneers will head to the NCAA East Region Preliminaries, May 25-27 in Lexington, Ky. The top 48 times in the East Region will head to the Prelims with the top 12 times from each event of the prelims advancing to the NCAA Championships in Eugene, Ore., June 7-10.
Not running in the meet is senior Mike Williams (Mt. Laurel, N.J.) who last outdoor season was named a Second Team All-American after finishing 14th in the 400mH at the NCAA Championships. Williams suffered an injury during the SoCon Indoor Championships and will end his ETSU career as a Second Team All-American and two-time SoCon 400mH champion.
"Mike Williams could not overcome an injury he sustained at the indoor conference championships and will be unable to compete. Mike has had a stellar career at ETSU highlighted by his individual conference wins and qualifying for the NCAA Championships last year," said Watts. "He has been a fantastic representative of his family, our track and field program and of the university. He graduated this past Saturday and whether or not he continues his running career he should be proud of his many accomplishments and how he carried himself throughout his time as a student-athlete at ETSU. We are certainly proud of him and wish him the very best."
For more information on Buccaneer Track and field, visit ETSUBucs.com and click on the track and field pages