JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (May 26, 2011) - Four ETSU Track athletes get set for preliminary action at the NCAA East Regional preliminary rounds today and tomorrow in Bloomington, Ind.
Emani Harrison (Columbia, S.C.), Ifrish Alberg (Paramaribo, Suriname) and Jasmine Ingram (Frederick, Md.) run the sprint prelims in order this afternoon, while Mike James (Palm Bay, Fla.) runs the 110-meter hurdles tomorrow.
Sprints Coach Brandon Morton spent the week training his four athletes for the trip, something he did not necessarily expect, but definitely likes to see. "I can't lie, but it's a bit shocking to me to have four sprinters going to regionals," he said. "I was blessed to come here and be put in a situation where we have a lot of talented athletes."
With two years' experience in postseason already, James hopes he can break through as a senior at the top of his craft. He takes ETSU's top seed into the hurdles prelim tomorrow: Heat 2, No. 1.
"I qualified for regionals my sophomore and junior year, getting knocked out by three individuals," said James. "Hopefully this year it'll be a lot different. Being experienced in it now and seeing the competition, I should be a little bit more prepared this year."
Fellow senior Ingram has been to the postseason before, but this is her first trip as an individual competitor.
"It's a pretty good accomplishment to actually get to run at regionals," said Ingram, who made the trip her freshman year as an alternate for the 4x100-meter relay. "It's finally a good chance to get to compete."
"She's a big talent," said Morton of Ingram. "She's one of the few that I can really say: She really has a chance to move past regionals." Seeded No. 2, Ingram runs in Heat 5 of the 400 today.
Both freshmen run the lucky No. 7 seed in their respective heats.
Alberg's Atlantic Sun-leading mark was a formality, said Morton, as the newcomer from South America had already registered a regional-caliber mark.
"He's already run the time that'll get him there before I got him here," said Morton. "I pretty much knew that if I kept him in shape, he would make it. We just had to do some technical improvements with him, and now he's there."
Luckily for Alberg, an injury that cost him a chance at the A-Sun Indoor 60 title healed in time for him to win the Outdoor 100 title. He said his recovery and performance in the outdoor races put him in a position for a rare achievement as a freshman. "Not many athletes from ETSU make it to regionals, as far as I can go back in history," said Alberg. "It feels great to represent ETSU."
Technical improvements are something Harrison also needs to stand out in Bloomington. Reflecting on her near miss at gold in the A-Sun Indoor in February, Harrison said she channeled it into a positive learning experience.
"I learned from it because I gained so much more experience," said Harrison. "Coach helped me look at what I did wrong. When I go to regionals I know what I need to do, so I think those mistakes were meant to be."
"I knew she had some talent there, I just didn't know how much," said Morton of Harrison. "She ran a real good race at Clemson that got her in the Dance."
Good, in fact, translated to personal best for Harrison in the second-to-last day of the season. Today, she takes the No. 7 seed into Heat 4 of the 100 prelim.