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ETSU also features a decathlon leader and multiple qualifiers for tomorrow’s finals
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (May 16, 2014) – Wins in their respective events by Tyler Stepp (Dandridge, Tenn.), Brett Squibbs (Rock Hill, S.C.) and Ashley Kessler (Knoxville, Tenn.), as well as the ETSU men sweeping the podium in the 3000 meter steeplechase, capped an impressive day one on Friday at the 2014 Atlantic Sun Outdoor Track & Field Championships at Hodges Stadium on the University of North Florida campus.
“Overall, we had a great day and I like our team spirit and effort,” said ETSU Director of Track & Field George Watts. “The coaches have done a nice job of having their athletes ready to compete.”
Reigning A-Sun men’s long jump champion Stepp started competition strongly, but was plagued early by fouls on multiple quality jumps. The defending champion proceeded to save his best jump for last, recording a season-best, first-place mark of 7.64 meters; holding off Kennesaw State’s Andre Dorsey in second place with a leap of 7.60 meters. The senior has now added back-to-back conference champion to his already impressive resume.
Freshman phenom Squibbs continued his tear in the pole vault, dominating the competition to the tune of a 5.05 meters mark in the event. This vault is a new Atlantic Sun Conference record as the rookie continues to climb his way up the ranks in the NCAA Division I East Region standings in the event.
The Buccaneers went on to do some damage in distance events as well, sweeping the podium the men’s 3000 meter steeplechase. The pair of Sean Duffy (Jonesborough, Tenn.) and Adam Chase (Kingsport, Tenn.) started the race out in front and never looked back, finishing one-two with times of 9:11.16 and 9:11.21, respectively. James Miller (Oak Ridge, Tenn.) gained ground and came from behind to finish third overall with a time of 9:30.15 to complete the sweep.
Also on the men’s side, Nathan Rivera (Knoxville, Tenn.) started the tone early for the Blue & Gold, winning three of Friday’s five events in the men’s decathlon. The freshman took the top spot in the 100 meter dash with a time of 11.28, in the shot put with an 11.48 meters mark and in the high jump with a leap of 1.85 meters. In addition, Rivera fell just short of sweeping four events with a second-place time of 51.74 in the 400 meter dash; behind the leader who posted a 50.44 time. In total, the Knoxville native recorded a 3,432 point total which is tops heading into Saturday’s final five events.
In total, the men recorded 63.5 points on the day, good for second overall and behind leader Kennesaw State with 85 points. The Bucs’ three event wins are currently the most among men’s teams at the Championship.
“On the men's side we had big wins from Tyler Stepp , Brett Squibbs and Sean Duffy,” said Watts. “Tyler’s win on his last jump was as clutch of a performance as you'll ever see. Brett had to clear on his third attempt at his first height to win which was another fine competitive effort. Sean Duffy’s win was a result of a guy having a yearlong goal and making it happen.”
For the women, the Bucs occupied the top-two spots in the pole vault with Kessler and Katerina Vodova (Humpolec, Czech Republic) recording identical marks 3.81 meters. Lindsey Kessler (Knoxville, Tenn.) placed just outside of the top three in fourth place with a personal-best jump of 3.66 meters. Vodova also placed second in the long jump with a leap of 5.90 meters.
Additionally, for the ladies, Tyesha Jones (Nashville, Tenn.) turned in a huge personal best in the hammer throw with a fifth-place toss of 47.38 meters; nearly five meters better than her previous personal record.
In total, the ETSU women presently sit in third place with 40 points; one point behind Lipscomb in second place with 41.
“The women had a solid day with a nice win from Ashley Kessler as she sweeps the pole vault titles this year,” said Watts. “Katerina had a nice day in the long jump and pole vault while nursing an injury. I'm very proud of her. Tyesha Jones had the biggest improvement of the day with a 15-foot personal best in the hammer.”
ETSU was also successful in preliminary events with Dede Edgecombe (Spartanburg, S.C.) and Nicole Alexander (Rock Hill, S.C.) placing two-three in the women’s 100 meter hurdles with times of 13.73 and 14.25, respectively, to move on to tomorrow’s final. Other qualifiers include Mike Williams (Mt. Laurel, N.J.) in the men’s 110 meter hurdles with a collegiate-high time of 14.94, Keturah Williams (Alpharetta, Ga.) in the women’s 100 meter dash and Edgecombe qualifying for another final with a collegiate-high time of 12.00 in the 100 meter dash.
“The women had a good day,” said Watts, “and we have a chance to get on the medal stand in quite a few events tomorrow.”
The Championships will pick back up on Saturday morning, again, with heptathlon and decathlon events at 9 a.m. A mixture of field and track competition will progress throughout the day before action ends with the men’s and women’s 4x400 meter relays at 8:40 p.m. Championship presentations will then follow at 9 p.m. to conclude the weekend.
Meet information, schedules, and heat sheets for the 2014 Atlantic Sun Outdoor Track & Field Championships can be accessed by visiting AtlanticSun.Org, while live results can be viewed at HalfMileTiming.com. A complete recap of ETSU’s performances each day will be available at ETSUBucs.com.
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