ETSU builds momentum at East Tennessee Indoor Meet
ETSU builds momentum at East Tennessee Indoor Meet
Saturday, February 5, 2005


JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (Feb. 5, 2005) - The East Tennessee State University track and field returned home to host its second meet of the year with the East Tennessee Indoor Meet on Saturday. Seven men's and women's teams competed in addition to ETSU at the meet including SoCon opponents Appalachian State, Davidson, and Western Carolina along with Georgia State, UNC Asheville, Milligan, and Winthrop. Several Bucs recorded personal bests throughout the day demonstrating that they are gearing up for the SoCon Indoor Championships just three weeks away.

Sophomore Johnny Tucker (Spartanburg, S.C.) had a strong showing the 60 and 400 meters recording personal bests in both events. In the 60 meters, Tucker posted a time of 6.94 to lead the preliminary results, while in the 400 meters he posted a time of 50.10 for second place.

"Johnny made a big improvement this weekend," said assistant coach Michelle Byrne. "He's headed in the right direction to be a contender at conference."

The ETSU women's sprints team was led by Chantelle Vernon (Markham, Ontario) in the 60 meters. The senior finished second in the finals with a time of 7.64.

"Chantelle's performance continues to get better every week," commented Byrne. "Hopefully in three weeks she'll be in a good position to defend her title."

On the distance side, Joshua Hicks (Riceville, Tenn.) competed in the 3000-meter race and finished sixth overall with a time of 8:46.39.

"Josh had a good work out with today's race," stated head coach David Walker. "At conference, he's capable of running 1:53 but needs to continue to stay healthy an work hard."

The women's distance program also saw success as Christine Ward (Candler, N.C.), Maggie Hunter (Roanoke, Va.), and MacKenzie LaBonte (Port Charlotte, Fla.) continued to see improvement in their events. Ward placed third and Hunter placed fifth in the 3000 meters with times of 10:44.01 and 10:50.37 respectively. Both times were new seasonal bests for the ladies in the event.

"Christine ran a smart race and Maggie had a good run as well," stated volunteer women's distance coach Catherine Berry. "They both are capable of running better and have a lot of improvement still to come."

LaBonte competed in the 800-meter and Mile events for the Bucs. She finished with a time of 2:27.92 in the 800 meters and 5:35.30 in the mile.

"For MacKenzie today's competition was a learning experience and she's realizing the value of competing," said Berry.

ETSU carried their success into the field events with solid performances from Nathan Strickland (Morganton, N.C.), Dave Thomas (Maryville, Tenn.), Daniel Williams (Knoxville, Tenn.), and Shane Estes (Maryville, Tenn.).

A freshman, Strickland recorded a time of 23.59 in the men's 200 meters in addition to notching personal bests in both the long and triple jumps. In the long jump Strickland recorded a mark of 6.75m to take first place, while in the long jump he jumped 13.04m for third.

In the pole vault, Thomas and Williams also recorded lifetime bests. Thomas reached a mark of 4.10m to tie for eighth, while Williams reached a mark of 3.95m and tied for 10th.

Estes was consistent in the high jump for the Bucs with a third place finish in the event with a jump of 1.93m.

The Bucs will look to continue this surge in momentum as indoor track and field action continues next weekend when they travel to Columbia S.C. to take part in a two-day meet hosted by Clemson University on Feb. 11 and 12.