(April 13, 2006) - After silencing the competition at the inaugural Atlantic Sun Indoor Championships, the ETSU men's track and field team will look to make it a clean sweep at the A-Sun Outdoor Championships, this weekend in Clermont, Fla. The women's team will aim to move up the conference ranks, and improve upon its sixth-place finish indoors.
Senior James Rainer (Alcoa, Tenn.) will be the one to beat in the 100-meter dash, boasting the best time in the conference by a quarter of the second. Rainer, a three-time A-Sun Athlete of the Week, sailed to a personal-best, and regional-qualifying mark of 10.40 at the Western Carolina Invitational earlier this season.
The senior is not only undefeated in outdoor competition this season, but also untarnished in A-Sun action after sweeping the 60- and 200-meter titles at this year's indoor championships.
Teammate Johnny Tucker (Spartanburg, S.C.) will also vie for hardware in the sprints, entering the championships with the second-fastest time in the 200-meters (22.24), and the third-best mark in the 100 (10.88).
The Bucs' sprinters are also poised to medal in the relays, as the 4x100-meter holds the conference's top time at 42.03, and the second-fastest in the 4x400-meters at 3:23.68.
Sophomore Mike Wright (Chattanooga, Tenn.) will look to repeat his indoor championship performance, where he won the conference crown in the heptathlon to go along with silver medal finishes in the 60-meter hurdles and the high jump, and a bronze medal in the long jump. Wright scored a total of 32 on the competition, the most of any athlete in the field.
The sophomore currently boasts the number-two time in the 100-meter hurdles (15.31), as well as the third-rated performance in the 400-meter hurdles (57.67). Wright will be a busy man this weekend, as he will likely compete in the hurdles, jumps, and javelin.
The Bucs will also aim to make a dent in the distances with indoor 800-meter champ Josh Hicks (Riceville, Tenn.) entering the meet with the third-ranked times in both the 800 (1:56.62), and the 1,500-meters (3:59.13). Jeff Crane (Taylors, S.C.), who struck gold in the 3,000-meters indoors, will also look to score in the 1,500, coming in with fourth-best time in the event (4:01.91).
ETSU harriers Jordan Ladd (Ontario), Peter Dalton (Dublin, Ireland), and Michael Deren (Blasdell, N.Y.) will also be expected to collect points in the long distances, covering the 3,000-meter steeplechase, and the 5,000- and 10,000-meter races.
In the field, sophomore Shane Estes (Maryville, Tenn.) will seek his fourth-consecutive conference high jump title after besting teammate Wright in a jump off for the A-Sun indoor crown. Estes is the number-two seed in the event with a season-best clearance of 6-2.75, just three and a quarter inches off conference leader Logan Brelsford of Campbell.
Freshman Guy Hornsby (Morgantown, W.Va.) is likely to be the Bucs' scoring hope in the throws, after claiming the silver medal in the A-Sun 35-lb weight competition this winter. The rookie has already made his mark this spring, smashing the school record in the hammer throw with a toss of 133-2 at Western Carolina. Hornsby's performance is rated fifth in the league standings.
Daniel Williams (Knoxville, Tenn.) will represent the Bucs in the pole vault, clearing a career-best height of 15-0 at the Liberty Invitational. Williams, who took fourth-place honors indoors, is ranked third in the conference going into the championships.
Junior Anna Marie Ricciardi (Canfield, Ohio) will likely be ETSU's top scorer on the women's side, coming off a conference title in the high jump this winter. Ricciardi is currently tied with Florida Atlantic's Jian Jones for the league-leading mark, as both competitors have cleared 5-7 this spring.
Ricciardi will also look to claim points in the 100 hurdles, entering the meeting with the sixth-rated time in the conference (15.58).
ETSU will count on its sprint core to make an impact in the team standings, with Jenny Knox (Connelly Springs, N.C.), who owns the A-Sun's second-fastest 100 time, leading the way. Knox's personal-best mark of 11.94 is just three one-hundreths off conference-leader Janita Ocana of Jacksonville (11.91).
Sprinters Ebonie Jones (Richmond, Va.) and Cagney Bailey (Statesville, N.C.) will also eye big performances this weekend, entering the weekend with season-best 100 marks of 12.20, and 12.27, respectively.
Jones also looks to put a dent in the 200-meter field, fielding a season-best time of 24.97, the fifth-best entry time in the competition. Bailey and Knox could also make an impact in the event, as both athletes are ranked in the top 10 heading into the weekend, well within striking distance of a scoring position.
Distance runners MacKenzie Labonte (Port Charlotte, Fla.) and Christine Ward (Candler, N.C.) aspire for scoring spots, with Labonte marking top 10 performances in both the 800 (2:20.86), and the 1,500 (4:52.86). Ward is ETSU's top competitor in the 10,000, after clocking a time of 38:34.27 at Raleigh Relays, the fifth-fastest time in the field.
The Lady Bucs will also look to freshman throwers Dedra McDaniel (North Tazwell, Va.) and Antoinette Smith (Lynchburg, Va.) to provide a scoring boost from the field. McDaniel boasts the fifth-best throw in the hammer (119-9), and the seventh-farthest mark in the discus (114-6), while Smith holds a top-10 rating in the shot put (35-9.25).
Freshman Rebecca Cole (Knoxville, Tenn.) is currently tied for second in the A-Sun pole vault rankings, after clearing a school-record 10-0 at the Liberty Invitational.
The action gets underway on Friday afternoon, beginning with the women's hammer at 4 p.m. Competition is scheduled to conclude at approximately 4 p.m., Saturday evening. Check ETSUBucs.com for results and recaps following both days of competition.