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CHARLOTTE (March 20, 2011) - A lifetime-best 9:24.84 carried senior standout Ben Ronoh (Sotik, Kenya) to the 3,000-meter steeplechase title and highlighted a stellar Saturday for ETSU at the 49er Classic.
Ronoh, who edged out West Virginia Wesleyan's Barry Franklin by a fraction more than a second in yesterday's steeplechase, also finished fourth in the 3,000-meter run at 8:44.95. Assistant Track & Field Coach Eli Sunquist commended Ronoh for a smart run in the steeplechase, which was just one of many Buccaneer achievements over the weekend.
"We had a great kickoff to the Outdoor season this weekend at Charlotte," said Sunquist. "The weather was beautiful and we had strong performances across the board."
It all started on Thursday when Leah Oakhill (Brisbane, Australia) turned heads in the women's heptathlon, winning the shot and long jump, then finishing second in the high jump and third in the javelin, en route to a third-place overall finish totaling 4,102 points. According to Sunquist, Oakhill set two lifetime bests in her first-ever heptathlon. "I'm very excited to see what a healthy Leah can do in her next combined event competition," he said.
Turning back to the track, both the men's and women's side scored well. "Our sprinters did a phenomenal job over the two days," said Sunquist. "Also we were glad to see both relays run very good opening times."
Jasmine Ingram (Frederick, Md.) followed her Friday first in the 400-meter qualifier with gold in yesterday's final, improving her qualifying mark by almost nine-tenths of a second, clocking in at 54.64. Ingram's win headlined a bevy of Buc scorers in short distance. She joined Emma Bowers (Jonesborough, Tenn.), Hannah Bowers (Jonesborough, Tenn.) and Emani Harrison (Columbia, S.C.) on a women's relay team that went for fourth in the 400-meter in 46.82 and an impressive second in the 1,600-meter in 3:45.70.
Rounding out the top track performances on the women's side, Chelsea Clark (Fairmont, W. Va.) took fourth in the 3,000-meters in 10:53.13.
On the men's side, Mike James (Palm Bay, Fla.) ground out a fourth-place run of 14.29 in the 110-meter hurdles, improving three-hundredths of a second over his qualifying mark. Ifrish Alberg (Paramaribo, Suriname) and Robert Purcell (Raeford, N.C.) lit up the 100-meter dash and 400-meter hurdles, both finishing third in those respective events. Alberg ran the 100 in 10.42, while Purcell's 54.19 mark in the 400 hurdles was about six-tenths of a second faster than his qualifier. Tim O'Dell (Palm Coast, Fla.) came in seventh in the 400-meter dash at 48.87.
James, Purcell and Alberg added Quentin Greenlee (Morristown, Tenn.) to a dynamic 400-meter relay squad that posted a third-place time of 41.51, while O'Dell and Desmond Pierce (Morristown, Tenn.) joined Purcell and Alberg for fifth place in the 1,600-meter relay, registering 3:18.98.
Transitioning to the outdoor environment, the jumpers posted several promising finishes in the top ten. "The horizontal jumpers are still trying to get used to dealing with the winds outside," said Sunquist, "but overall they had a good opening outdoor meet. They were jumping quite well for this time of the year, so I'm very excited about that."
Ryan Beaver (Virginia Beach, Va.) took sixth in the men's triple jump with his mark of 46-08.75, while Jason Johnson (Springfield, Pa.) fell just two inches short of his teammate, taking seventh at 46-06.75. Likewise for the women's team, Lexie Burley (Johnson City, Tenn.) and Bethany Lender (Altoona, Pa.) also finished sixth and seventh, digging in at 38-05.50 and 38-04.75.
Rounding out a solid weekend, more Bucs made a few more top-ten splashes in the field events. Jasmine Foster (Johnson City, Tenn.) and Lili Allison (Oxford, Ala.) finished six-seven in the shot with Foster's throw landing 40-00.50 downrange and Allison not far behind at 39-06.50. Ryan Jones (Apopka, Fla.) snuck into the top ten in the high jump with a 6-02 (1.88m) effort.
With several solid results, Sunquist said ETSU looks to build on the outdoor opener as they head to Columbia, S.C. "Next weekend we're looking to have an even better showing at USC, where we'll be able to face some great competition from around the southeast."
ETSU participates in the Weems Baskin Relays at the University of South Carolina's Weems Baskin Track. For more on the upcoming meet, check gamecocksonline.cstv.com's Track & Field tab. For more information on ETSU Track & Field, visit www.ETSUBucs.com.