Seniors shine in final home indoor meet
From left: James Garst, Zack Summerall, Hunter Sampson, Yohana Koko, Kiana Davis, Starr Graham, Nyambi Shoates, Margaret Hayden, Mia DePillo.
Seniors shine in final home indoor meet
Saturday, February 2, 2019

Johnson and Varghese sweep men’s awards at Buccaneer Track and Field Invitational 

JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (Feb. 1, 2019) – The final home meet of the indoor season was a successful one for the ETSU track and field team Saturday, as the Bucs recorded 14 podium finishes to cap off senior day inside the MSHA/ESTU Athletics center.

Eleven ETSU seniors were honored midway through the second day, many of which competed in their last indoor event inside the Dome. The senior recognition highlighted the achievements of the athletes, who were accompanied by family, friends and teammates.

Additionally, ETSU swept the men’s track and field Athlete of the Meet awards. Redshirt senior Ben Johnson (Nashville, Tenn.) won the men’s field award, while sophomore Ben Varghese (Kingsport, Tenn.) hoisted the plaque on the men’s track side.

After all events were completed, world record holding Paralympic athlete Blake Leeper spoke to the team and shared an inspiring story. Leeper competed unattached in the men’s 800 meter run in the Dome, winning the event with a time of 1:54.70.

With only one indoor meet remaining before the Southern Conference Indoor Championships, ETSU Director of Track and Field George Watts said he believes today was an overall success.

“We had another very strong day with competitive efforts throughout the team,” Watts said. “We had a lot of our young kids do well, and it's good for them to get used to winning events and getting on the podium. We had 10 podium finishes, not including our winners. That was a very strong meet for our teams.”


Track Highlights from Day Two

  • Senior Lamisha Simmons (Hollywood, Fla.) capped her senior day with a win in the 60 meter hurdles just 30 minutes after her recognition ceremony, taking the gold at 8.80 seconds.
  • Later in the day, ETSU had a 1-2-3-4 finish in the men’s mile, led by Varghese with a new personal record of 4:07.30. Varghese also broke former Buc runner Simeon Robert’s meet record of 4:09.27 in the process.
  • The Bucs swept the podium with junior Adam Bradtmueller (Sarasota, Fla.) and senior Wes Pectol (Greeneville, Tenn.) placing second and third. Junior Khayvonn Benson (Marietta, Ga.) was fourth with a PR of 4:15.48. With their times, all three runners made the all-time top 10 for the Buccaneer Track and Field Invitational mile. 
  • ETSU’s third and final track win of Day Two came in the women’s 4x400 relay, as ETSU’s A Squad brought home the gold at 3:52.55. The lineup included Vicki Franse (Clinton, Tenn.), Neyasha Honorable (Knoxville, Tenn.), Jessica Lord (Morristown, Tenn.) and Johnaida Eliscar (Columbia, S.C.).
  • In the women’s 60 meter dash, senior Kiana Davis (Ooltewah, Tenn.) earned silver with a time of 7.61, a new personal record by 0.01 seconds. Sophomore Fanta Sanoe (Stone Mountain, Ga.) placed fifth in the final with a new PR of 7.85.
  • Junior Josh Routh (Gray, Tenn.) landed a second place finish in the men’s 3000m with a time of 8:44.47.
  • The women’s 800m saw a two-three finish by freshman Genevieve Schwarz (Oak Ridge, Tenn.) and sophomore Lindsay Stallworth (Knoxville, Tenn.) with times of 2:18.52 and 2:18.62, respectively. Both athletes set new personal records.
  • While Leeper may have headlined the men’s 800 meter run with his unattached win, sophomore Matt Scarr (Wamberal, NSW, Australia) finished third overall and first among attached athletes with a time of 1:55.35.
  • Appearing for the first time in 2019, sophomore Heather Feuchtenberger (Elizabethton, Tenn.) ran the women’s mile and set a new personal record at 5:10.93 to place sixth overall and fifth among attached athletes.
  • Putting the stamp on her senior day, Mia DePillo (Fort Wayne, Ind.) shattered her previous personal record in the mile by 17 seconds with a time of 5:31.55, winning the early heat. 
  • ETSU took three of the top five spots in the early heat of the women’s 3K, led by redshirt sophomore Addison Aguilar (Clovis, Calif.) who closed in on the leader with a late burst to finish second at 1:14.97 — .39 seconds behind the top time in that heat. Sophomores Lindsay Bruce (Knoxville, Tenn.) and Hannah Sokol (Kingsport, Tenn.) finished fourth and fifth in the heat, respectively.


Field Highlights from Day Two

  • Freshman Mekayla Brown (Elgin, S.C.) finished a strong meet by sweeping the women’s horizontal jumps — winning today’s triple jump with a personal-best mark of 11.93 meters.
  • Also in triple jump action, junior Paige Peterson (Alpharetta, Ga.) PR’ed with a 11.56m mark for bronze. Redshirt freshman Aliyah Hill (Snellville, Ga.) and senior Nyambi Shoates (Atlanta, Ga.) also had PRs of 11.51m and 11.32m. 
  • Johnson nearly swept the throwing events for the men, topping off his award-worthy performance with a second place mark in the shot put at 16.02m — ninth in all-time meet history.


Thoughts from Coach George Watts

On Johnson and Varghese: " Ben Johnson and Ben Varghese topped off a great meet by winning the Athlete of the Meet awards for the field and track. Ben Varghese continues to shine (today) with a victory and meet record in the mile run. Very impressive.” 

On Brown sweeping the horizontal jumps: “Mekayla Brown became a double winner by winning the triple jump in a personal best performance. That is fantastic.”

On Simmons’ streak of hurdles wins: “Lamisha Simmons won the 60m hurdles, and I believe she is about to see a significant drop in that event over the next couple of weeks.”

On sprint standouts: “We had some hidden performances that bode well for the conference meet. Two in particular were Fanta Sanoe and Kashif Warren in the 60m dashes.”

On the 4x400 win: “We had a lot of fun in the last event where Franse, Honorable, Lord and Eliscar won the 4x400m relay. That's how you're supposed to finish off a meet.” 

On the seniors: “I want to congratulate and say ‘thank you’ to our seniors. It was great to have their families as part of our senior day recognition. I can't say enough about the effort they put forth to represent ETSU in the classroom and in the track and field arena.”

On the officials: “Finally, I want to give a huge shout out to our officials — especially Buc alum Larry Manis for his hard work in organizing a great group of dedicated and loyal track and field officials. We can't do it without them.”


Up Next

The Bucs have one more meet scheduled before the Southern Conference Indoor Championships, as the team heads to Nashville, Tenn. to compete in Vanderbilt’s Music City Challenge Feb. 8-9.

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