By Jeff Birchfield, Johnson City Press
EDITOR'S NOTE: This is one of a five-part series on the 2019 class of the ETSU Athletics Hall of Fame that will be inducted during a ceremony Friday night at the Carnegie Hotel.
Before setting foot on the campus of East Tennessee State University, track and field athlete Michelle Gregg already felt at home in Johnson City.
One of the newest inductees into the ETSU Athletics Hall of Fame, the Ireland native remembered the feeling of looking out the window of a plane at Johnson City below.
“Leaving Dublin and flying into Johnson City, I saw this sea of green forests and trees. How green it was, it just gave me this feeling of home,” she said. “Surrounded by the Irish community, the Irish history, it was just wonderful.
“I had never heard of Johnson City, Tennessee, before. To be welcomed there, it had a sense of home, a wonderful warmth from the people right off the bat.”
ETSU Hall of Fame coach Dave Walker recruited a legendary group of Irish runners in the 1970s nicknamed the “Irish Brigade.” They included such notables as Ray Flynn, Neal Cusack, Louis Kenny and Frank Greally. On the women’s side, Gregg added to the great tradition, a multi-time participant at the NCAA championships. She was an All-American in 1998 after a fifth-place run in the 800 meters at the NCAA indoor championships.
Gregg was part of ETSU’s only Southern Conference indoor championship team in 1995 and the Bucs’ SoCon outdoor championship team in 1996. She said Walker played a big role, always knowing just how high to set the bar for his athletes and building a true team, where even in individual events, they all felt they were in it together.
Michelle Gregg – Women’s Track and Field – 1995-98
1995 SoCon Freshman of the Year (Outdoor) … 1998 All-American selection in 800m … Finished fifth at the 1998 NCAA Indoor Championships in 800m … Finished 10th at the 1997 NCAA Championships in the 800m … Finished 16th at the 1996 NCAA Championships in the 800m … Two-time all-SoCon performer (1996 and 1997) … ETSU record holder in the 800m (2:05.18, 1997) … Two-time SoCon Indoor Champion 800m (1995 and 1996) … 1995 SoCon champion in 1500m (outdoor) … SoCon Outdoor Champion in 800m in 1995 … SoCon champion in 1500m in 1996 (outdoor)… Ran a leg of the DMR championship team at the 1996, 1997 and 1998 SoCon Indoor Championship … Ran a leg of the 4x400m championship team at the 1995 and 1997 SoCon Outdoor Championship … Finished seventh at the 1996 SoCon Cross Country Championship … A member of the Bucs’ 1995 SoCon Indoor Championship squad – ETSU’s only indoor SoCon title … A member of the Bucs’ 1996 SoCon Outdoor Championship squad – ETSU’s only outdoor SoCon title.
The ETSU Athletics Hall of Fame Ceremony will be held on Friday, Sept. 20 inside the Carnegie Hotel. A reception will be held from 6-7 p.m., with the program and dinner starting at 7 p.m.
The public is invited to attend and tickets are priced at $65 per individual. A weekend Hall of Fame combo ticket, which includes entry to the event on Friday and football game on Saturday, is also available for $85 per person, while a table of eight people for the Hall of Fame can be purchased for $500. To purchase tickets, please call Jo Anne Paty at 423-439-4738 or visit ETSUBucs.com.