JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (Jan. 3, 2019) – In an effort to introduce its newcomers, the ETSU track and field team has continued its “ETSU Track and Field Thursdays” series for the second year in a row to introduce 25 new members to the program.
This week, the program highlights eight new athletes who will compete in field events for the Bucs in the 2019 season.
In the previous two ETSU Track and Field Thursdays, the program introduces its new distance runners and sprinters/hurdlers. 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.
“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:
Mekayla Brown – Fr. – Elgin, S.C. (Ridge View HS)
One of three ETSU newcomers from Ridge View High School along with Johnaida Eliscar and Lanaya Martin, Brown comes to ETSU with experience in multiple track and field events. Watts said he expects Brown to focus mostly on high jumps, triple jumps and long jumps heading into 2019, as she holds personal records of 5’2” , 37’9.25” and 17’2.5” in each event, respectively. In high school, Brown was a state runner-up in the triple jump and a state scorer in the high jump — placing fourth and fifth.
Coach’s Comments: “Mekayla has very good talent and can cover several events throughout the season. Patience will be the key while she figures out what it's going to take to be a great athlete. Mekayla can be a very impactful during her career at ETSU. My hope is that along with other teammates she will eventually develop into a NCAA Regional qualifier and eventually qualify for the NCAA Championships.”
Kennedi Johnson – Fr. – Nashville, Tenn. (East Nashville Magnet HS)
Johnson joins the Bucs as a freshman from East Nashville Magnet in Nashville, Tennessee — the same high school as current track and field senior Lamisha Simmons and the ETSU women’s basketball duo of Erica Haynes-Overton and Kaia Upton. Johnson has her own legacy though, earning TSSAA Division II state titles in 2016, 2017 and 2018. The 2015 Junior Olympic All-American competed in hurdles and multi-events in high school, winning the team MVP award in 2017 and 2018.
Coach’s Comments: “Kennedi, as much as any of our new people, has shown the maturity and desire you hope to see in your athletes. She will be a very competitive heptathlon/pentathlon athlete, and I believe can be counted on to score in several events each SoCon meet. We are very fortunate to have a person of her caliber on our team as we work toward winning a championship.”
Kolin Miller – Fr. – Lebanon, Tenn. (Wilson-Central HS)
The lone addition to an experienced throwers group, Miller comes to ETSU following a four-year track and field and wrestling career at Wilson-Central High School in Lebanon, Tenn. As a thrower, Miller set a 157’10’’ personal record in the discus and won multiple events throughout his career, while also qualifying for state all four years in wrestling. Throwing runs in the family for Miller, as his brother, Braidon Miller, is a member of the track and field team at King University and his father, Braidy Miller, set multiple throwing records that still stand today at Eastern Illinois from 1988-92. His uncle, Brent Miller, is also listed in the record books at EIU for his throwing abilities, as Kolin hopes to carry on those traditions at ETSU.
Coach’s Comments: “Kolin has worked hard this fall and shows the knowledge and talent to be a SoCon scorer very soon. He is strong academically, just missing out on a 4.0 GPA this past semester. As he moves forward into college competition and gains experience — especially at our conference meets — I think he will develop into a fine thrower.”
Paige Peterson – Jr. – Alpharetta, Ga. (University of West Georgia)
The lone transfer from this group, Peterson joins the Bucs as a transfer from West Georgia, a Division II member from the Gulf South Conference. While there, Peterson not only lettered in track and field, but also starred on the volleyball court for the Wolves as a multi-sport athlete. Peterson holds the UWG triple jump record at 37’ 6.5” (11.44m) and also won three region titles in the triple jump while at Cambridge High School. Peterson comes from an athletic family which includes her brother, Devin, who played four seasons at Western Carolina. Her cousin is five-time NBA all-star and 14-year veteran Chris Webber.
Coach’s Comments: “Paige comes to us as a transfer. She has excellent athletic ability, and with a year of college experience already under her belt, she should have an immediate impact on the team and within the SoCon. With her addition, I expect us to have a very competitive jumps group — especially in the long jump and triple jump. If Paige stays zeroed in on the important stuff and consistently trains, she can have a lot of success.”
Kimberly Raber – Fr. – Landrum, S.C. (Landrum HS)
A pole vaulter and weightlifter in high school, Raber joins the ETSU track and field squad following a successful athletic career at Landrum High School in South Carolina. She was the South Carolina Upper-State pole vault champion in 2016 and is a three-time state qualifier in the event. Off the field, Raber also showed her strength as a two-time national champion weightlifter for USA weightlifting. She holds the South Carolina state weightlifting records in power clean, squat, bench and overall total for her class.
Coach’s Comments: “Kim I believe will develop into a conference scorer — and hopefully more. Along with Rachel Smith, she adds strength and depth to an event we've been missing out on the last couple of years. Kim, like all freshmen, will benefit from patience and process. I believe she will be a great recruiter for our team and help draw more vaulters to ETSU.”
Noah Shelton – Fr. – Gray, Tenn. (Daniel Boone HS)
A local product from Daniel Boone High School, Shelton was well known athletically in the area for multi-sport abilities as an offensive MVP winning quarterback, a center on the basketball team and a high jump and javelin performer for the track and field squad. Shelton brings all-state experience to ETSU, earning honors in the high jump both in 2016 and 2017 with a 6’6” (1.98m) personal record.
Coach’s Comments: “Noah has been a pleasant surprise this fall because of his work ethic and easy-going demeanor. He's a fantastic student, attaining a 4.0 GPA for the recent fall semester. Noah can be an immediate scorer in the high jump on the conference level and can hopefully add the javelin to his outdoor events. As an all-around athlete, it wouldn't surprise me if he learned a third event as well.”
Rachel Smith – Fr. – Soddy Daisy, Tenn. (Baylor School)
A Chattanooga, Tennessee native, Smith comes to ETSU after a successful career at Baylor School, competing in both soccer and track and field for the Red Raiders. Competing in the pole vault event, Smith won the state championship in 2017 while also setting the school record with her personal best mark of 11’10” (3.60m).
Coach’s Comments: “Rachel has a chance to become one of ETSU's all-time best pole vaulters during her career. Her signing fills a void on our women's team. I see her as an immediate conference scorer and ultimately challenging our school records. She has a lot of upside — and how far she goes will definitely be up to her.”
Khiara White – Fr. – Stone Mountain, Ga. (Chamblee Charter HS)
A Chamblee Charter High School graduate, White competed two seasons as a jump specialist on the track and field team. The highlight of White’s high school career came in the Georgia AAAAA state championship, the third-highest level in the GHSA, where she placed fourth in the long jump with a 19’1” (5.81m) mark to set her personal record. White also competed in the triple jump, setting a 36’10” (11.22m) personal best.
Coach’s Comments: “Khiara is another great jumps addition to our team and group. There's no doubt she will be battling for scoring spots in the jumps and possibly a running event at the SoCon Championships. When Khiara truly develops her competitive streak and realizes how good she can be, the sky will be the limit. She just needs to figure out that she can be a contender.”
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For more information on ETSU track and field, visit ETSUBucs.com and click on the track and field page.