COLUMBIA, Mo. (May 25, 2007) - With the first day of the 2007 NCAA Mideast Regional in the books, the ETSU men's 4x100-meter relay team shined on the track Friday afternoon, as they earned a spot in Saturday's final at Audrey J. Walton Stadium, located on the campus of University of Missouri.
The men's 4x100-meter relay crew of James Rainer (Alcoa, Tenn.), Derek Carey (Nassau, Bahamas), Johnny Tucker (Spartanburg, S.C.) and Chris Harrison (Woodbridge, Va.) qualified for the final, posting a season-best time of 40.17. Despite its third-place finish in the second heat, ETSU's performance was just strong enough to enter the finals as they beat out Mississippi State (40.27) for the eighth and final slot. Tennessee took the top spot in the prelims, breaking the stadium record with a time of 39.51.
"The guys laid everything out on the line today and did just enough to squeak into the final," said Byrne. "James cramped up down the stretch, but he gave it all he could to reach the finish line and help his team survive for one more day."
Rainer also took the track in the 100-meter dash, however, he did not have the same luck as he and his teammates did in the relay. After cramping up in the last leg of the relay Rainer gave it his best in the 100, but his time of 10.57 fell well short of reaching the finals tomorrow.
On the women's side seniors Anna Marie Ricciardi (Canfield, Ohio) and Jenny Knox (Connelly Springs, N.C.) closed out spectacular outdoor careers at ETSU. Ricciardi, making her second consecutive Mideast Regional appearance, posted a mark of 5-07.25 (1.71m) in the high jump final. She fell just short of clearing 1.76 meters, which would have punched her ticket to nationals. However, Ricciardi finished tied for eighth overall, marking her best career finish at the regional event. Alabama's Miruna Mataoanu won the event with a regional record of 6-02.75 (1.90m).
"Anna jumped very well today and she saved her best for last," said Byrne. "She had the 1.76-meter jump cleared; however, at the end she clipped the bar but to post an eighth place finish at the regional meet is still an outstanding accomplishment."
On the track, Knox made her regional debut in the 100-meters and finished with a time of 12.08. Knox will look to carry over her outdoor momentum over into her final indoor season next year.
"Jenny had a spectacular outdoor season," added Byrne. "Hopefully by gaining the experience of reaching the regional this season helps motivate her during her final indoor campaign next year."
The 4x100-meter relay team will look to secure a bid to next month's NCAA Championships at 4 p.m. Saturday. The top-three finishers receive an automatic bid to the Championships in Sacramento, Calif., which begins Wednesday, June 6. Please visit http://mutigers.cstv.com/ or click on the link above to follow all the action live of the 2007 Mideast Regional.