JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (Dec. 20, 2018) – In an effort to introduce its newcomers, the ETSU track and field team will continue its “ETSU Track and Field Thursdays” series for the second year in a row to introduce 25 new members to the program — beginning this week.
Over the next four weeks, the track and field program will introduce its new distance runners, sprinters, hurdlers and field event athletes. On the final week leading into the indoor season opener on Jan. 11-12 — the ETSU Track and Field Invitational — we will introduce this year’s coaching staff.
This week will feature the middle and long distance runners. Nine athletes — three females and six males — will begin their first season of competition with the Bucs in 2019. The majority of this group debuted during the 2018 cross country season for ETSU.
“We are excited about our newcomer and freshmen class and what they will bring to the team as we move forward,” said ETSU head coach George Watts. “We filled several needs and have high expectations for this class. Our ‘Track and Field Thursdays’ will be a fun way to introduce the athletes and highlight the team in general.
Meet the Athletes:
Addison Aguilar – R-Fr. – Distance – Clovis, Calif. (Tusculum)
Aguilar joined the program last season, but will enter her first official year of competition donning the Blue and Gold in 2019. Aguilar transferred from nearby Tusculum University, where she ran cross country for one season. The Clovis, Calif. native ran at Clovis North High School before joining the Pioneers and won the 2014-15 Cross Country Best Newcomer Award and 2015-16 Most Improved Cross Country Award. Aguilar also contributed to back-to-back league championships in 2013 and 2014 while at Clovis North.
Coach’s Comments: “Addison has been a nice addition to our program and has a chance to be a major contributor in cross country. Hopefully, she will gain experience and confidence during this year’s indoor and outdoor seasons and carry over into the next year.”
Khayvonn Benson – Jr. – Middle Distance – Marietta, Ga. (Shorter University)
Benson joins the Bucs for his junior season after two years at NCAA Division II member, Shorter University. Benson brings a strong collegiate resume to ETSU, winning Gulf South Conference track and field championships in the 800m and 1500m as a Hawk. Johnson City had an early taste of what Benson can do, as he won last year’s ETSU Buccaneer Invitational 800m event. The 2018 USTFCCCA All-Region honoree also had a prolific high school career, winning two state championships in 2014 and 2015 and setting four school records at Marietta High School in Georgia. Benson’s athletic pedigree extends to one of his siblings, as his brother, Kirvonte, is a senior running back for Georgia Tech’s football team, where he rushed for over 1,000 yards in 2017.
Coach’s Comments: “Khayvonn has a chance to be very good in the middle distance events. His success will be realized if he understands the importance of consistent training throughout the year. He has great range and will help us in the 4x400m and in cross country in the future.”
Seth Bowden – Fr. – Distance – Maryville, Tenn. (Maryville HS)
Bowden joins the Bucs after a successful high school career at Maryville High School in Maryville, Tenn. The distance runner finished 11th place at the TSSAA Division I state cross country meet in 2017, and will look to provide his talents in a similar way at ETSU.
Coach’s Comments: “Seth's future is in the 10,000m where his ability to run relaxed will be a real asset to his success. He red-shirted this past fall in cross country but will be a strong candidate to make our top seven next fall. I think he can be a scorer in the steeplechase once he becomes strong enough to double in two events.”
Gavin Cooper – Fr. – Distance – Jacksboro, Tenn. (Campbell County HS)
A Campbell County graduate, Cooper gives ETSU added depth on the distance side. The true freshman competed in four meets during cross country season and will hope to capitalize on that experience in 2019. In high school, Cooper had a breakout senior season as he competed in the Division I Large School 1600m finals at both the 2018 TSSAA State Track and Field Championships and the 2018 TSSAA Section 1 Large School Championships. He holds five school records at CCHS in the one-mile, two-mile, 3200m, 5K and part of the DMR.
Coach’s Comments: “Gavin was a nice surprise during the cross country season, and I have similar expectations for the track seasons. It might take a year to find his true event as I feel he can be competitive in everything from the 1500m to the 10,000m. I look forward to seeing where his hard work will take him.”
Zach Johnson – Fr. – Middle Distance – Kingsport, Tenn. (Sullivan South HS)
Johnson is another true freshman that debuted in the cross country season for the Blue and Gold, competing in both the Virginia Tech Alumni Invitational 7.6K and the High Point University Vertcross 8K event.
Coach’s Comments: “Zach has a good talent and ran some very nice steeples while in high school. Once he gets a solid year of distance training under his belt, he will become a competitive SoCon performer.”
Shila Kapaya – Fr. – Distance – Knoxville, Tenn. (Knox Catholic HS)
Kapaya made a large impact on the Bucs during the 2018 cross country season, placing 13th place in the Virginia Tech Almuni Invitiational 6K against a field of 66, finishing with the second best time on the team. Kapaya also placed in the top half of the 5K run at the Southern Conference Championships, finishing 20th of 83 with a time of 18:55.6. She followed that up with a PR in the NCAA D1 South Region XC Championships with a time of 22:51.8 in the 6K. Her personal bests include a 11:03.59 in the 3200m, 5:10.09 in the 1600m, a 5:07.50 in the mile and an 18:12.25 in cross country action. She is a six time state meet scorer in the 1600m (2x) and 3200m (4x) while making all-state four seasons in a row in cross country.
Coach’s Comments: “Shila comes from a very fine program at Catholic High School in Knoxville. She showed steady improvement throughout her high school career. Ultimately, I see her as more of 5000m or 10,000m runner. She's already shown great promise during her first cross country collegiate season this fall.”
Josh Krafsur – Fr. – Middle Distance – Fort Collins, Colo. (Fort Collins HS)
Krafsur made a splash during the 2018 cross country season for ETSU, making his debut in the Covered Bridge Open 8K with an 18th place finish against a field of 88 participants. Krafsur posted a time of 26:07.7 in his lone cross country run of the season. His high school personal bests include a 9:20.59 time in the 3200m and a 4:21.16 in the 1600m. He was a three-time state qualifier in the 3200m event — twice as a junior and once as a senior — and once in the 1600m as a senior. Krafsur was also a three-time league champ in high school in those events.
Coach’s Comments: “I expect Josh to be a very fine middle distance runner and develop into a excellent steeplechaser as well. He showed great promise early on in the cross country season before deciding to redshirt. A willingness to be patient will go a long way in the success he can achieve.”
Wes Pectol – Sr. – Middle Distance – Greenville, Tenn. (Auburn)
An exciting addition for Watts’ distance group, Pectol transfers to ETSU from Auburn University. Pectol competed with some of the best the Southeastern Conference had to offer over four season and was named to the 2016 USTFCCCA All-Region team in cross country, among his other achievements. The Greeneville, Tenn. native set the Tennessee State record in the mile while at Greeneville High School with a time of 4:05.25. The senior, who had connections to ETSU as his grandfather played football for the Bucs from 1958-60, has one year of indoor and outdoor track eligibility and will use it while pursuing a medical degree through the Quillen College of Medicine.
Coach’s Comments: “Wes comes to ETSU with some very fine credentials. We are grateful he has chosen to finish out his collegiate running career as a Buc. He has a very grueling schedule as a first year med student, but his talent, drive and running background will give him a chance to improve on his many accomplishments.”
Genevieve Schwarz – Fr. – Middle Distance – Oak Ridge, Tenn. (Oak Ridge HS)
Joining Kapaya as freshman runners on the distance side, Schwarz had a solid debut season for the 2018 cross country squad. In her first event collegiately, the Covered Bridge Open Meet 5K, she posted a time of 18:40.1 to finish 25th in a field of nearly 100 runners. She also competed at the SoCon Championships, placing 25th in that 5K run against 82 other runners. She capped the season competing in the 6K at the NCAA D1 South Region XC Championships, hoping to bring her experience into the 2019 track season. In high school, she set personal bests of 5:07.07 in the 1600m and 5:12.75 in the mile. Schwarz also qualified for the 1600m her senior year.
Coach’s Comments: “Genevieve is a strong middle distance runner with cross country talent and toughness. She was a major contributor in her first season, and I expect that to carry over into the track seasons. She will be counted on to help us in the 1500m, mile, 3000m and DMR this year.”
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