ETSU wraps up day one of 2005 Southern Conference Indoor Track and Field Championships
ETSU wraps up day one of 2005 Southern Conference Indoor Track and Field Championships
Friday, February 25, 2005

JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (Feb. 25, 2005) - The Buccaneers wrapped up the first day of competition at the SoCon Indoor Track and Field Championships on Friday afternoon. After the first day of events, the men are in fourth place, while the women are in fifth place.


In her season debut, redshirt freshman Anna Marie Ricciardi (Canfield, Ohio) claimed the first SoCon Indoor Track and Field Championship title for the Bucs when she won first place in the high jump for the Bucs with a mark of 1.73m.


"Anna has made a tremendous adjustment to step into the conference meet," said assistant coach Michelle Byrne. "I'm excited about her future at ETSU."


The day's events began with the men's heptathlon and women's pentathlon. After four events ETSU freshman Michael Wright (Chattanooga, Tenn.) is in second place with 2,646 points, which is just 13 points behind of the current leader Dustin Wright of Appalachian State. Junior Jennifer Whittington (Richland, Va.) represented the Bucs in the pentathlon finishing ninth overall with a total of 2,456 points.


"Michael has put himself in position to be all-conference and hopefully he'll continue to compete well tomorrow," stated Byrne.


In the 3,000 meters, ETSU had two top ten finishes with Peter Dalton (Dublin, Ireland) recording a time of 8:40.54 and Jordan Ladd (Lyn, Ontario) recording a season best of 8:49.23.


Senior Chantelle Vernon (Markham, Ontario) continued her strong season in sprints with a second place finish in the 60 meter dash prelimins with a time of 7.57 to advance to tomorrow's finals, while freshman Nikki Johnson (Palmdale, Calif.) recorded a season best in the 60-meter hurdles with a time of 10.90.


Vernon also advanced to the finals of the 200-meter dash along with Ebonie Jones (Richmond, Va.), Vernon, and Jenny Knox (Connelly Springs, N.C.).  Jones finished fifth overall with a time of 25.35, Vernon seventh overall with a time of 25.45, and Knox eighth overall with a time of 25.46. Jones also competed in the long jump and took third to make All-Southern Conference with a mark of 5.58m.


"Ebonie competed well today and is a very talented athlete, who hasn't scratched the surface of her potential," commented Bryne.


Nichola Cornish (Spartanburg, S.C.) also recorded a season best with her time of 56.84 in the 400-meter dash prelimins. Cornish finished first in her heat and first overall to advance to the finals.


In the men's sprints, James Rainer (Alcoa, Tenn.) and Johnny Tucker (Spartanburg, S.C.) both advanced to the 60-meter dash finals. Rainer won his heat with a time of 6.85 and finished second overall in the preliminaries, while Tucker finished with a time of 6.90 for fifth place overall in the preliminaries, which is his lifetime best.


"I'm really proud of James and his effort today. He has had a difficult last two months, but his competitive drive keeps pushing him and I hope tomorrow will allow him to culminate in an all-conference finish." Byrne continued, "Johnny went in today and executed the race plan. He's maturing and learning if you work hard the rewards will follow."


Tucker also advanced to the finals in the men's 200-meter dash. Tucker finished first in his heat and second overall with a time of 21.89, which is his best time so far this season.


Matt Starr (Raleigh, N.C.) finished ninth in the 400-meter dash prelims with a time of 51.54 to advance to the finals.  


In the men's long jump, Nathan Strickland (Morganton, N.C.) took fourth and Adan Blevins (Greeneville, Tenn.) took fifth with a mark of 6.82m.


"I'm very impressed with their performances today," remarked assistant coach Phillip Rotich. "Nathan showed signs of reaching this level at the last meet, but I really wasn't expecting Adan to reach 6.82m as well. Today, both of them push the other to do better to reach the next level and I'm very pleased with the result."


In the final event of the day, the distance medley relay, ETSU's men's team took fourth with a time of 10:32.74, while the women's team finished seventh with a time of 12:48.54.


The day's events also included a special recognition for ETSU's head coach of 42 years, David E. Walker. In the fall of 2004, the Southern Conference track and field coaches voted to name the Men's Cross Country Coach of the Year award after Walker in appreciation of everything he has done for the Southern Conference as well as the track and field community and this afternoon Southern Conference commissioner Danny Morrison presented Walker with a plaque of appreciation and to officially mark the occasion.


Southern Conference Championship action continues Saturday morning at 8:30 a.m. with the continuation of the men's heptathlon and is scheduled to conclude at 4:15 p.m. with trophy presentations.


Men's Rankings - End of Day 1
1.         Appalachian State          80.5
2.         Western Carolina           50.5

3.         Chattanooga                  25
4.         ETSU                            15
5.         UNC Greensboro            12
6.         Wofford                         6
7.         Davidson                       3
8.         The Citadel                    2


Women's Rankings - End of Day 1
1.         Appalachian State          69
2.         Western Carolina           48
3.         Georgia Southern           39.5
4.         Chattanooga                  33.5

5.         ETSU                            18
6.         Furman                         10
7.         The Citadel                    5

7.         C of C                           5
9.         UNC Greensboro            3

9.         Davidson                       3